I continue to make good progress with War and Peace. I must admit that I am already starting to feel the length of this book. I have read several books this year that are until 200 pages. So passing the 200 page mark and only 20% of the way through the novel is a bit discouraging. But I am determined!
To remind you, I am reading War and Peace with my brother in law and writing short reviews of each book. Check out my full Classics Club list here.
Book 2 of War and Peace takes us to the front of the war against Napoleon. We learn where several characters are now stationed including Prince Andrew, Nicholas Rostov, Dolokhov, and several new characters (of course). Over the course of this book, there are several small battles, several extended discussions about war tactics and strategies, and an excursion to the Austrian emperor in exile.
What is most interesting for me in this book is the different ways characters react to life on the battlefield. Prince Andrew remains thoughtful and seeks strategic ways to prove himself. Rostov is naively excited for his first battle, but the war is far less exciting than his idealizations. Different commanders wish to take different strategies. And always Napoleon is in the background–unpredictable and stronger than the Russians assume. While I know how the war eventually ends, the specific details of each battle and commander are new to me.
Prince Andrew continues to be an intriguing character during this book, especially with his travels to the emperor, report of the small victory, and return to the front. I continue to be curious as to why he acts the way he does.
I was disappointed to not get any scenes from Moscow or St. Petersburg in book 2. I enjoyed the social visits and conversations more in book 1. The long passages of military details and plans for attack were hard for me to get excited about and hard for me to follow sometimes. I can appreciate that there must be extended coverage of the war in the novel (especially because of the title). But I prefer the social scenes.
Things that are tricky/confusing:
- SO MANY CHARACTERS. I knew this going in. But wow, how does Tolstoy add characters so quickly? I’m impressed they are all connected to the plot in meaningful ways.
- Getting through the military wording and planning
While I am impressed by Tolstoy’s language and character development, this book was harder than the first for me. Looking forward to more details about those left behind in Russia in book 3!