Sunday, 22 February 2015

War & Peace Read-a-long: Hanna's Week Three Check-In

I've been dying to talk about this week's chapters since I finished them on Tuesday - SO MUCH HAPPENED! And yes, you read that right - I'd already completed my reading by Tuesday. It was quite a relief afer struggling to get through the previous week, but after I'd finished those on Sunday afternoon, I just kept reading.

I'm so so glad I did - how brilliant was this week? Duels, births, deaths, gambling, bankruptcy, court marshals, robbery, FREEMASONRY... who'd have thought?

The lack of in-the-trenches plot was a relief, I have to admit. I was getting a little stalled of it by the end of Week Two.

We jumped straight into the action, didn't we? I was ridiculously excited over the duel, to the point where I felt the need to excitedly text Charlotte. That woman puts up with a lot from me, I tell you. It was absolutely duel-worthy though - not even the adultery, but Dolokhov's 'Here's to pretty women, my dear little Pierre. And their lovers,' which was pretty dickish.

It does seem like a duel may not have been the best idea ever, considering that Pierre has NEVER SHOT A BLOODY GUN BEFORE, but it turned out alright. Can't help but think Dolokhov is going to pop back up and be pissed at some point though. I also love the fact that Denisov actually thought they were duelling because of a piece of paper...

And then Dolokhov goes and bankrupts Rostov, just because his sister turned down a marriage proposal. Don't get me wrong, it takes two - Rostov could have left the damn table - but I'm definitely not a Dolokhov fan.

I also fairly heavily dislike Prince Andrey, who is clearly the King of Mixed Signals.'No no, Sonya, you should totally accept Dolokhov... but I'm glad you didn't. Although I'm not promising anything, so don't get your hopes up...' Dick.

Basically, the only person I liked in this book just DIED. Poor little Princess, with her downy lip and anti-climactic death. I mean, I know death in childbirth was way more common back then, but come on. I do feel like Tolstoy could have made a bigger deal of it. I was genuinely quite upset, even if no-one in the damn book was!

1) Are you managing to keep all the characters straight in your head?
Actually yes, it's a lot easier than I'd expected. Sometimes it takes me a line or two to remember, but the context is usually pretty helpful. I have the women all straight, but sometimes I get the military men mixed up for a few seconds.

2) Have your tactics that we discussed in Week One changed since beginning this book?
Not really - I had to alter them in Week Two because I didn't have time to only read this at home, but this week I was able to finish early and move onto something else for a bit of light relief.
I'm sticking to my paperback copy because I find it really helpful to flick forward and reassure myself that the chapter is only four pages long or so. 

3) Aww, poor Pierre. Do we feel sorry for him or is it his own fault for marrying for lust?
I feel sorry for him. Saying otherwise is almost like saying 'Hey, she was attractive - she was bound to cheat on you!' I'm not sure she deserved to have so much of his estate settled on her - he's clearly a reasonable person, since he's trying to improve the lives of his serfs, even if he is a little dense.

4) Do you think Dolokhov will get his comeuppance - not only for sleeping with Helene, but for basically bankrupting Rostov?
Well he was shot, I suppose. And it's not like he could have bankrupted Rostov without his consent, is it?
Don't get me wrong, the man's an arsehole and I really hope that he gets his comeupannce, but I don't see it. Having said that, there's two third of the book left and only one character has died yet. Cross your fingers!

5) Who knew the FREEMASONS were part of War & Peace!? How do you feel about this?
Haha, I was completely bewildered! Apparently Tolstoy happened across some Freemason documents and felt it would make a good plotline (but considering it's remarkably pro-mason, it's surely possible he was a member?), but I was honestly sat there just looking confused for quite a while.
I admit that I skimmed quite a lot of Pierre's joining ceremony as I just couldn't dredge up the interest. 

6) Do you think Tolstoy dislikes women as much as he seems to, or is it a form of satire? 
ARRRGH, I don't know. I set this question to get other people's views as I just can't decide. I know I could go research it as I'm sure a lot of people have written papers on 'the women in Tolstoy,' but this is taking over enough of my life without researching the damn themes.
I hope that he's gently poking fun at the men of the time period and had a thorough understanding of the value of women... but I'm not sure.  


  1. The free masonry was weird. I'm not a fan of the philosophical discussions like Pierre was having with the other masons and Andrei. I lost a lot of focus while reading those chapters. But the rest of the reading was so interesting! I loved the drama :)

  2. The free masonry was weird. I'm not a fan of the philosophical discussions like Pierre was having with the other masons and Andrei. I lost a lot of focus while reading those chapters. But the rest of the reading was so interesting! I loved the drama :)

    1. No, I wasn't particularly interested in them either and I ended up skimming a fair bit. I did like that he wanted to improve the lives of his serfs, even if it didn't end up happening though.

  3. Seriously though, what is with the Freemasons?! I did not welcome that interruption :| Everything was going well and then there's a stranger rambling on at Pierre about God and living well. Not a happy diversion!

    Poor Lise! I had to read her death paragraph (!) twice because I was so surprised by it! Not surprised that she died in childbirth but that Tolstoy just wrote her out so quickly! And didn't even use her name! Just the little princess with the downy lip one minute and nothing the next. Boo.

    I used to be a Nicholas fan but he irritated me in last week's reading. Especially over the gambling thing. Why let Dolokhov get one over on you like that?! Stupid :(

    Oh and you know I adore the Tolstoy texting, right?! It's like being in constant book club! :)

    1. I know! Where on earth did that come from? I had to go and SparkNotes it to make sure 'freemason' didn't have some alternative meaning I wasn't aware of.

      One solitary paragraph, I know. And then a funeral mentioned in passing! I was so not pleased - not that she died (although I wasn't exactly thrilled), but how little of a deal it apparently was. She was my favourite character!

      Nicholas? Is that Rostov? Yeah, he was acting like he'd been duped by Dolokhov, but he wasn't chained to the table :/

      Haha, okay then. Sometimes I just have to share!

  4. Poor Liza or Lise or whatever we're calling her. I was upset too!

    I managed to get some light reading in too, yay! Much as I am enjoying it, reading the same book for too long starts making me worry about all the other books that I'm missing out on (stupid I know, but never mind!)

    1. No, it's not stupid - I feel the same. I'm also going to end up having read much fewer books than normal by the end of the year, but then I'll have read War & Peace so it evens out :p

    2. Yeah... I think I might artificially inflate my numbers by reading lots of manga and comics, as I count each volume as a separate book. Mwah ha ha ha! Or I could just stop caring. BUT I CAN'T!!!

    3. Jenny, you read my mind! I was going to set aside a couple days this year to marathon some manga and get those numbers up, hahaha!

  5. YES, we're all on track!

    This week's reading was crammed with drama, so of course I loved reading it all.

    The questions this week were SO GOOD, because I had to straddle the fence when discussing the Pierre/Helene/Dolokhov story and then the Dolokhov/Rostov story. Pierre/Rostov shouldn't be idiots, and Helene/Dolokhov should stop being jerks. It takes two.

    I want to give Tolstoy more credit and think that he's being satirical, but my gut tells me that he's just a man of his time.


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