Hi everyone. Today I’m back with a review of books 5 & 6 of War and Peace.
I’ve been hitting a bit of a rut with reading this novel lately. Since I read on my Kindle usually, I see the percentage of the book I have read. I have been stuck in the 30’s% for a while and that feels like not that much progress. Luckily, I read more in the last few days to get up to 40% complete! That feels like a big deal!
Books 5 and 6 take place both at the front and back at home. On the front, Denisov’s regiment is starving in the bitter winter months. He hijacks a supply wagon for his soldiers and is court marshaled. He makes himself ill over the court marshal and is sent to a military hospital. Nicholas Rostov goes to visit Denisov there and is appaled by the disgusting conditions. Later, Nicholas attempts to seek pardon for Denisov from the emperor but is unsuccessful. At the end of book 5, Emperor Alexander signs a peace treaty with Napoleon. Back in Russia, Pierre becomes a Free Mason and is eventually convinced to reconcile with his wife, although their marriage is still not happy. He enjoys a visit with Prince Andrew who is having difficulty living a fulfilling life after his wife’s death. Andrew eventually decides to go to Petersburg where he falls in love with Natasha Rostov. Book 6 ends with Andrew and Natasha’s secret engagement to last one year.
I am continually surprised by how much time passes in this novel. Already, its been years since the very first chapters of the novel. We had the original war campaigns and now months have past since Andrew proposed to Natasha. I thought the novel would only follow one part of the campaign, but it follows the whole war (I suppose it is called WAR and Peace 🙂 ). Perhaps that is why the different books read slower or faster–so much detail can make the story drag a bit.
I actually really enjoy the love story surrounding Andrew and Natasha. Yes, I know he’s a good deal older than her. And they seem to think so differently about life. But I love that they make each other want to be better (thus far, I don’t know how it all ends). Natasha have grown and matured a lot in these books and I am glad to see her being more serious about love. Frankly, I don’t like the type of person Boris has become so I’m glad Natasha moved on from him. I am always impressed by how respectful and calm Andrew is in all situations. Also, Natasha brings joy and meaning back to Prince Andrew’s life. I love that. Hoping they will last this long secret engagement and get married.
The trajectory of Pierre’s character also surprises me. I did not expect the extensive discussion of freemasonry in the novel. Honestly, I’ve learned more about freemasonry in this novel than I knew previous. While those parts can get rather dense, I am glad to see Pierre finding meaning in his life. He seemed so lifeless at the end of book 4 after the duel and his separation from his wife. I still don’t really trust or like his wife. But I hope Pierre can find happiness in the end.
Things that are tricky and/or confusing:
- How does the process of court martial and pardon work in the face of extreme conditions? (I don’t think Denisov was wrong for trying to help his regiment).
- How hard is it to be a free mason?
Themes and questions I am enjoying/pondering:
- How does one discover truth?
- How does one define love and how does one fall in love–Natasha and Andrew seem to be different than previous couples. Why?
- How does service bring you closer to God? Pierre becomes almost obsessed with helping his serfs but is not able to make as big of a difference as he had hoped.
I am hopeful that I can stay on my upward trajectory with reading and get excited about these next books! Again, wow this novel is a masterpiece.