Tuesday, 17 March 2015

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

This post almost didn't happen this week. Between being away all weekend, falling asleep the second I get home and typing on a computer all day at work, answering my own questions about an epic Russian novel is more or less the last thing I've wanted to do. But then I checked my blog feed this evening and saw other people's posts about last week's chapters... and suddenly I wanted to talk about it.

This is the point of read-a-longs, people! This is why there's safety in numbers. I genuinely don't think I'd still be reading if I didn't have people with whom I can bitch about Natasha/Rostov/Prince Bolkonsky/pretty-much-every-one-else with.

1) Honestly, by this point in the book (55% or so), do you think War & 
Peace could have been shorter or did it need to be this long?

This question was obviously included just so we could have a quick bitch about how long this book is.

I wouldn't mind, but he keeps going off on tangents. Apparently Tolstoy hadn't planned out the damn thing before he started writing, so he continually wrote about whatever influenced him at the time. He wrote the hunting part whilst away on a hunting expedition with his friends, and had just stumbled across some Freemason documents at that point... you get the idea.

If he'd stuck to the damn story, it would have been fine! Also, he's not very good at typing up loose ends, is he? I mean, I know there's a lot of the book left to go, but we haven't heard anything about Rostov and his failure to restore his family's fortune for a while and I was interested in that.

2) Do you feel there's been another change in tone? Why do you think Tolstoy keeps doing this? Do you like it? 

See above. He seems to change tone on a whim.

Some chapters he's all philosophical and whimsical, but then the next it may as well be a history textbook. And then a glorious court scandal follows that. It certainly keeps you on your toes!

I suppose I'd have to grudgingly admit that I don't hate it. I'd expected the whole book to be awful, so I should count my blessings that only the odd chapter frustrates me. And for a book this size, I suppose it would be quite boring if it were all quite samey.

3) Natasha. AAAAAAAAAND GO. 

Alright, so she's better this week. Although that's possibly just because she's had less air-time. I still dislike her quite intensely though - how dramatic can you be? Plus, she's not accepting any accountability for actions that are entirely her own fault.

To put my ire in context, I never write in books. Ever. And yet, look.

Even though it's unlikely anybody but me will read this copy until I die and my descendents invariably cart my books to a charity shop, I just had to point out to the next reader that this did not happen to Natasha. Natasha happens to other people!


4) Pierre has convinced himself (via numerology, obviously) that Napoleon is the Antichrist from The Book of Revelation. Is this in character for Pierre? How do you think he'll act on this?

ARGH. It's totally in character for Pierre. Much like Tolstoy, he seems to jump on whatever bandwagon happens along. Freemasons, sure! Numerology, why not? Natasha? Well, everyone else has...

I don't actually dislike Pierre, I just want to pat him on the head a little. He really needs a decisive and sensible wife to keep him grounded. Maybe Natasha would actually be good for him in that sense? She doesn't exactly seem like a shrinking wallflower, but then she does have a little too much Lydia Wickham in her.

I don't think he'll act on this though. I can't really see him flinging holy water at Napoleon as he drives past, can you? He'll forget about it and move on to something else. Probably decide he wants to be a Master Juggler or something. 

1 comment:

  1. I wonder whether it would have its reputation as a difficult book if it was shorter? Because I have to say I was expecting it to be a complete slog before I started reading it, but it's actually enjoyable for the most part, and not really difficult at all. But yeah. So much editing could have been done, and the fact that he seems to just randomly drop storylines as well frustrates me! (Although the book moves around so much that it takes me ages to realise that he's probably not actually going to pick up certain storylines again.)

    I love your annotation!! Haha. Oh Natasha.

    I am looking forward to the Pierre juggling chapters! :D


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