Wednesday, 20 January 2016

War & Peace: Post One - Opening Thoughts

I wonder how many posts I will end up with on this by the end of the year? I started War and Peace on Thursday 7th January. These are my opening thoughts.

After mistaking the introduction for chapter one then spending five minutes or so flicking past prefaces and notes, I finally found the opening page. According to my kindle, this put me at 5% through the book. Here's hoping I get through the remaining 95% just as quickly!

My initial plan was to read two or three chapters before starting An Ember in the Ashes, but I've actually made it a few chapters into book two before deciding to pause. War and Peace is much better than I expected. I'm really enjoying it. I think this is largely due to the BBC adaptation currently on TV, which is making it easy to keep track of who is who and what is going on.

So far, one of my favourite things about the novel is Tolstoy's amazing skill at characterisation. In a few, carefully crafted sentences he gives you a clear insight into even minor characters, allowing you to imagine them quite clearly. It is truly impressive.

I'm also really enjoying the drama of the court: the gossip; the etiquette; the scandals.

Unfortunately, even starting book two only puts me 13% through the book, with 29 hours worth of reading time left. I've also just got to the first major 'war' section of the novel, so I've decided to give it a rest for a bit (maybe I should just read the peace bits?) This Buzzfeed article suggests it's "interesting until page 200, and then mainly turns into a doorstop" which is a little concerning! Although the same article recommends reading Ulysses, which I would never, ever advise, so I won't trust it too much.

I will definitely pick War and Peace back up once I've finished AEITA (possibly before as I can read it on my phone at anytime) and I'll post another update next month. Also, if you're not already watching the TV show, start now on iPlayer. You won't regret it.

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