War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy ****

16 May 2020 | ,

Reading dates: circa 20 October 2017-15 May 2020

Neil and I love reading aloud to each other. We have been through various Jane Austen novels (my favourite), David Copperfield (the only Dickens we managed to finish) and various shorter works. War and Peace has been our biggest challenge, time and commitment wise. I feel very fortunate to have shared this experience with Neil, baffled together at some of the plot lines, puzzled over who’s who for the first half of the book, struggled with the last section on how history is made, held our breath on the Natasha-Anatole episode (no spoilers) and rehearsed Denisov’s accent together, each bringing our specific quality to his diction.

The book itself, outside of my own reading experience, is far-reaching and unlike anything I have ever read. Apart from Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, there is no specific plot line, no thread and one can chose to follow one thing or another, only to be disappointed, of course. It reminded me of my own choice to follow Ser Jorah in Game of Thrones. Here, I followed Natasha and Sonia, probably the most obvious choice, although this is perhaps a reflection of me, interested in impossible love stories.But there was not a whole lot of Natasha and even less of poor Sonia. In a sense, War and Peace is the opposite of Madame Bovary.

I will remember forever reading this together, and reading it alone when we were apart to discuss the chapter the next day. The reasons, though, have been far more articulately written about by my beautiful husband. Where we go from here in our reading together adventure feels like an important choice to make.


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