I recently heard about a War and Peace read-along hosted by Hanna at Booking In Heels and since I know this novel will be much easier to read with a group of other bloggers than it would be to read it on my own, I have decided to participate!
As you can see, it is a two-and-a-half month-long event, so we only have to read 1-2 books a week (there are 15 plus 2 epilogues), which is doable.
This week we read Book 1, and since I have never read anything by Tolstoy or any other Russian novelist, it took a lot of effort to keep track of all of the characters (there are plenty), as well as figure out how to even pronounce their names.
[spoilers below for Book 1 of War and Peace]
The main plot points that take place during Book 1 are the death of Count Bezukhov, the legitimacy of his son Pierre (who is then able to receive the Count’s inheritance, much to the shock of the rest of the family), and the deployment of Prince Andrew.
- What pre-existing ideas did you have about War and Peace?
I expected it to be long and boring.
- On that note, is it as bad as you’d expected?
While it is long (1,000+ pages), it isn’t boring. At the same time, not much has happened either. So it’s interesting that it’s able to keep my attention.
- What strategies are you employing? (e.g. reading in short bursts, using your Kindle on your commute, taking notes about the characters…)
I printed out a list of characters (8 pages long!) because there are so many and it’s hard to keep track of who is who. At this point, only a handful of the characters are familiar to me–when I see Princess Anna Mikhaylovna Drubetskaya (isn’t that a mouthful?) or Pierre or Prince Vicili, I know who they are. But most of the characters are completely unknown to me.
I’m also reading a specific number of chapters per night (~4) so that helps keep me on track and the chapters are fairly short so I can take breaks.
- How are you getting along with your translation?
The Kindle version I’m using is great. Much better than lugging around a printed book. They’ve translated the French segments, but since I speak French that wouldn’t be a problem for me. (Side note: this also aided me while reading Jane Eyre. I think every reader should learn French; you never know when you’ll need to translate book dialogue!)
- Most and least favorite characters?
Favorite character: So far I like Princess Mary (I think she also goes by Maria?). She seems sweet.
Least favorite: By far, Princess Anna Mikhaylovna Drubetskaya is my least favorite. She reminds me of those women who just butt into everything that doesn’t concern them. I wonder if I’m the only one who feels this way?
- How do you feel about the way women are treated in the book?
I feel that they are looked down upon; their opinions are condescended and they are often criticized by the male characters (and even other female characters).
“I am a woman, and you think we are all stupid;” – Princess Katishe
If you’re interested in reading along with us, it’s not too late to join! Click here for the schedule.