War and Peace – the book which, in my experience, has become synonymous with “anything long and lengthy”. To summarise the plot, I would describe it as a 19th century Russian soap opera, describing the lives of various wealthy and influential individuals as they struggle to live their lives in a world simultaneously full of war and peace.
I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about the historical context of War and Peace, and I don’t intend to either – although if anyone can succinctly summarise some key facts for me in the comments I would gladly give them a read! Because of this, I didn’t enjoy Tolstoy’s interruption of the narrative with his own historical judgements and quips. Furthermore, I struggled to determined what was fact and what was fiction, and so a lot of “waffle” regarding battle plans and stratagems went over my head too.
If you are planning on reading War and Peace, it would also be quite handy if you were fluent in reading French, German and Russian, as there are numerous passages written in these languages, reflecting the education of Tolstoy and his target audience at the time.
Yet all is not lost!
I did really like the overlapping storylines about key characters such as Pierre, Natasha & Prince Andrew, which is why I think it’s best described as a soap-opera. The development of the characters’ stances on, for example, morality, religion and love were in-depth and eye-opening, prompting me to think about things too.
To truly enjoy this book, I would recommend you watch the BBC television adaptation of War and Peace, which was aired not too long ago.
I watched War and Peace at the same time as reading it, which was really helpful in distinguishing all the various characters with confusingly similar Russian names and advance the rate of plot in such a way that the boring scenes of battle plans and foreign policies were significantly condensed. I sincerely apologise if I have offended any “die-hard” Russian history fans reading this review!
This review seems longer and lengthier than any others I’ve done so far – quite apt, when considering the length of War and Peace!
Overall, I did enjoy reading this book – I like having a big novel to work through s well as smaller books on the go at the same time because I read sections of my “giant novel” when commuting, making it seem like less of a daunting challenge. So, if long and lengthy novels are your thing, I would recommend that you read it too!