Well after trying three times over the last 4 years I have finally finished the book War And Peace. Man, I feel like I have just finished a marathon!
So where do I begin? First the obvious – the book is every bit as good as everyone says it is. The book has everything in it : politics, romance, sex, spiritual enlightenment, war, death, jealousy and a gamut of human emotions that would result in a long, long a list. The book delves deep into all these human emotions with a clarity that is astounding and the reader cannot help but “feel” what a character feels.
The book was like a first hand account of the life and times of Russia in 1812. The society norms, the way people lived, their thoughts, their actions, their ideas were all a in the book. Not only a peasant but actual historical figures were a big part of the book and Tolstoy did a marvelous job describing them.
When I read a book, I try to “visualise” the feelings and the scene and more often than not, I have to fill in the gaps because the authour could not put in words the scene. But I did not have to do that with this book at all.
I had no trouble putting myself in Pierre’s shoes when he finds that he has no alternative left but to assassinate Napoleon. I had no trouble putting myself in Natasha’s shoes when she overcomes her grief of losing the love of her life to take care of her mother who has just learned her favourite son is dead. I had no trouble in understanding why Kutuzov wants to reign in his army from trying to capture Napoleon as he fled from Russia.
My favourite character in the book was Pierre Bezukhov. The illegitimate son who becomes one of the richest men in Russia when he inherits his father’s estate. His story fascinates me : how to live a morally good life. I thought that this was the central theme of the book and Tolstoy has described in wonderful detail the trials and tribulations that Pierre goes through until finally he discovers new peace and a sense of existence as a prisoner of war.
Tolstoy has done mankind a favour by writing this book.