Yesterday, I was thinking that I might sort of blog my way through my reading of War and Peace. Sort of like a more in-depth journaling but in digital form. I found that I had quite a few thoughts on Part I this week, and to try to handwrite all that out in my reading journal was, well….. let’s just say it was a bit overwhelming to be honest. For some reason, typing things out seems less daunting. I also thought others might like to share this journey, adding their thoughts and comments along the way if they’ve already read War and Peace. Or if you want to read it, feel free to join me! So I created this little graphic above and plan to journal my thoughts here as I go.
This is my second time reading Tolstoy’s masterpiece War and Peace and I am reading it with a lovely group of people over on Instagram. I shared in a previous post how the first time I read it, I found it to just be okay. But that now, I feel like I am able to really soak in Tolstoy’s beautiful writing in this book. And that is totally panning out to be true. Part I draws you right into the story. Yes, there are a TON of characters introduced. But I am finding that my annotation of the characters this time around helps with that (I’m doing it a bit differently this time around since I’ve already read the book before and had a character list then). I am going to be completely honest with you. I don’t remember a lot about the storyline from my first time reading this book. I remember some of these characters to some extent, but I don’t really remember much of what happens. So it really is kind of like reading it for the first time, just with some memory of things here and there.
I already have some reactions to some of the characters.
Pierre – Ok. I’m a Pierre fan already. There is just something about him that I love. I hope this continues to remain true throughout the book!
Prince Andrey – Yeah. No. I can’t stand him. Sorry. He has this mix of arrogance with his clear disdain for his wife that just utterly rubs me the wrong way. Now, I will preface this by saying that I hope his character will evolve and change as the novel progresses. I can’t remember if it does.
Princess Anna Mikhaylovna – I find my feelings to be a bit mixed about her. She is doing what she feels she needs to do to make sure her son gets a better place in society, in a job, etc. But I also can see how she was probably somewhat annoying to those around her. So I guess my feelings are a mix between sympathy, annoyance, yet also seeing her to be a strong woman. Pretty complicated…..
Vera Rostov– What is up with Vera? I think the jury is out on her right now. She initially seems to be pretty haughty and not very nice. But I have a sneaky suspicion there’s more to her than we might think.
Princess Marya Bolkonsky – I think she is an interesting character. At times, she feels very much like she has this religiously holier-than-thou attitude. And that’s something that is off putting. But then as you read, there is a humbleness to her. And she is very forgiving and gracious and kind. I really appreciated how she approached her brother Prince Andrey about how he was with his wife and tried to help him understand what it must be like for his wife. So I’m thinking she might turn out to be a character I am going to really like.
If you notice, Tolstoy does not write one-dimensional characters. We see how these characters are multi-faceted. That’s what I’m noticing about how Tolstoy writes his characters….very layered and complex. Very realistic. Isn’t that true of all people? Aren’t we all layered and multi-dimensional? Tolstoy captures this SO well.
Some friendships I took note of:
Pierre and Prince Andrey – They seem to have a good friendship. Pierre obviously holds Prince Andrey in high regard. I will be watching to see if any more is revealed about their friendship.
Princess Anna Mikhaylovna and Countess Rostov – I thought there was such a touching scene that showed the bond these two women had. In Ch. 15 it says: “Anna Mikhaylovna’s arms were round her. She was weeping, and the countess wept too. They wept for their friendship, their kindheartedness and the unfortunate need for lifelong friends to soil their hands with anything as sordid as money, and they wept also for their lost youth…But the tears of both women were sweet…” (p. 61)
By the end of Part I, I was completely swept up into the story. But I am not so sure about entering Part II and feeling the same way. Because Part II switches to the war and the battlefield. I didn’t particularly care for those portions of the book my first time reading it and they quickly became a slog for me to read through. It will be interesting to see how it will be this time around!