A Look at April’s Reading List

April is National Poetry month and the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club team has chosen to focus on poetry for our book club’s reading selections. They have curated a selection of poems for our main selection and paired that with 5 different poetry collection books as flight picks. In addition, they have two poetry classes on the schedule and I am really looking forward to them! Poetry has not been something I have always enjoyed. I have a handful of poets I enjoy reading: Emily Dickinson, Mary Oliver, some of Robert Frost, and a couple of others. But by and large, it is not something I pick up to read on a regular basis simply for enjoyment.

Honestly, some poetry intimidates me I think. I have especially struggled with epic poetry. Things like The Iliad, The Odyssey, Beowulf, Paradise Lost – these have all been works I have had on my list of things to read because I feel they are good for me to read but not because I necessarily just would love to read them. 🙂 I can now say I have read The Iliad and Beowulf both in their entirety. The Iliad….well…..yeah, no….didn’t enjoy it. But the translation of Beowulf I read this past year I found I actually did enjoy! I still need to tackle The Odyssey and Paradise Lost though.

Anyhoo….

Setting aside epic poetry, there is so much more to look at in the form of writing called poetry. I think that maybe I just don’t know how to read poetry well if it doesn’t rhyme. A little embarrassing to admit, I think, but there it is. Thanks to the nudge from the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club team, I’m going to take the opportunity this month to really dive into the art of poetry and try to learn how to better read various different types and styles of poetry; and maybe, hopefully then, enjoy it even more.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

With that in mind, I am planning to pair up our book club reading(s) with a couple of books I have on my shelf:

  • How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry by Edward Hirsch
  • A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver

I am fairly certain I won’t be able to get both of these read by the end of the month. But that’s okay. The goal is not to get them completely read in a certain time frame. The goal is to begin reading them and let them teach me. Let them help me learn more about poetry and maybe even fall in love with it. (Here’s hoping! 🙂 )

Along with these two books, I will of course read the specially curated collection of poems from the MMD team, as well as try to read some of the flight picks (I’ve already read one and it was phenomenal!) as well as any other poetry collections I may like to give a try. And as I already mentioned, I plan to join in for both poetry classes offered this month in the book club.

Aside from the deep dive into the realm of poetry, I have two other books I plan to read. First, I have been feeling in the mood to re-read The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. This book was my first time reading a Steinbeck novel and honestly, I didn’t care for it a whole lot. But after reading East of Eden last year and finding it to be a phenomenal book, I decided I wanted to give The Grapes of Wrath another try. And so I think I am going to begin that this week.

And second, my IRL book club has chosen A Moveable Feast by Hemingway for our read this month. I am so excited to read this! It’s on my classics TBR and I’ve heard very high praises of it. I will probably try to start that about mid-month. If I can wait that long! LOL I may just spread it out over the whole month. We’ll see!

Being the mood reader that I am, there could of course be adjustments to these plans. I’ve got the month pretty scheduled with very little room for reading on a whim. But I will try to listen in to my reading mood throughout the month and adjust if I feel the need to. 🙂

What do you have in your plans for reading this month?

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Length: 182 pgs.
Genre: Fiction, Classics
My Rating: 5 Stars

From the Goodreads description:

Jay Gatsby is the man who has everything. But one thing will always be out of his reach. Everybody who is anybody is seen at his glittering parties. Day and night his Long Island mansion buzzes with bright young things drinking, dancing, and debating his mysterious character. For Gatsby—young, handsome, and fabulously rich—always seems alone in the crowd, watching and waiting, though no one knows what for. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life he is hiding a secret: a silent longing that can never be fulfilled. And soon this destructive obsession will force his world to unravel.

The Great Gatsby has been on my classics TBR for quite some time. And when my IRL book club began discussing what we might want to read next, I was excited that this book was picked! One of the members talked about Fitzgerald’s wonderful writing and I couldn’t wait to dive into the book. Well, it did not disappoint! I annotated the heck out of this book! 🙂


See what I mean? LOL I noted illusions to direction, dust, the overseeing “eyes”, things that stood out to me, and more. The last part of this edition I have is actually the short story Winter Dreams that Fitzgerald wrote. I read that it was the inspiration behind The Great Gatsby. And I definitely saw whispers of the novel in the short story.

Fitzgerald’s writing in this classic is beautiful, skillful, deep, smart. Truly phenomenal! There is so much that can be discussed. So many layers. Themes, motifs, connections to other literature. So. Much. There. In. These. Pages. In fact, our book club discussion went really long!

Fitzgerald wrote some very complex main characters. Gatsby, Daisy, and Nick all were so much more than they seemed on the surface. He also managed to really capture the spirit of the Roaring Twenties with all the grit and glamour. And his descriptive writing? Amazing! Here’s just a sneak peak at some of the beautiful descriptive language:

And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees – just as things grow in fast movies – I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” (p. 3)

We walked through a high hallway into a bright rosy-colored space, fragilely bound into the house by French windows at either end. The windows were ajar and gleaming white against the fresh grass outside that seemed to grow a little way into the house. A breeze blew through the room, blew curtains in at one end and out the other like pale flags, twisting them up toward the frosted wedding cake of the ceiling – and then rippled over the wine-colored rug, making a shadow on it as wind does on the sea.” (p. 6)

This novel is a glittering, stunning achievement in my opinion and one I will be reading again (and maybe again and again….)

Watership Down by Richard Adams

Watership Down by Richard Adams
Length: 474 pgs.
Genre: Classics
My Rating: 5 Stars

This book. Wow! I never would have thought a book about rabbits could be so engrossing! It put me in mind so much of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. How? First, the tone and feel of it. Second, it’s the story of a journey which is an epic adventure. And third, it is world-building.

*Tone and feel to the story and the epic journey*
These two kind of go hand in hand. This is a story about a group of rabbits that leave their warren because of the potential threat of danger. They feel danger is imminent and they must leave and find somewhere else to live; even though the thought of it terrifies them. So they embark on this daunting journey. It takes great courage and much resourcefulness. They face threats, danger, and sometimes what seems like insurmountable odds. And the ending very much made me feel like I felt when reading the part in The Hobbit when Bilbo comes back to the Shire after his big adventure.

*World-building*
Yes…worldbuilding…but in a different sense. It is a real world of rabbits and nature but to a different level. It is somewhat anthropomorphic. The animals can talk and share feelings and thoughts. They have a history. Their warren has a history. They have stories they pass down. It is a whole distinctive world.

In this novel, Richard Adams managed to represent the nature of life in this story of rabbits. There are themes of friendship, respect, honor, duty, loyalty, perseverance, fear, and courage. There are wars, fighting, and a great deal of drama. It is a story of survival, triumphs, and growth. The characters have depth and the story is full of beauty and richness. I can’t recommend this book enough!

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Length: 1358 pgs.
Genre: Classics
My Rating: 4 Stars

I find it hard to write a review of these longer epic works of classic literature. They involve so much and it’s hard to narrow it down to talk about it. The first time I read War and Peace I was, let’s just say, not that impressed. I found it to be simply okay. But I also knew that at some point I needed to read it again. And so I did. This second time around I loved it so much more! This book is truly phenomenal. I do feel it has its own flaws; but in my opinion those flaws don’t detract from the book overall.

Tolstoy includes a lot of details in the war sections but also in the other parts of the story, including a lengthy philosophical digression in the second part of the epilogue. As I have already mentioned in a previous post, as far as the war and battlefield portions go, while I think we may not necessarily need all the details he gives, I can see how this attention to detail really does contribute to the epic scope of this novel. Because this book truly is a masterpiece of epic proportions.

Regarding the philosophical detours, when you understand that Tolstoy wrote this novel with the intent to include reflections of his beliefs on a number of issues, then you can see why he included so much of the various sections with all the details of war and the parts that were treatises on different topics such as history, free will, and such. Understanding that, it makes sense that he would devote a portion of the epilogue to delve into his beliefs more and in turn, bring them to a close. But I didn’t feel like he brought them to a close. It felt like he just went on and on talking about the issues and left off in the middle of the conversation. So the last part of the epilogue left a bit to be desired unfortunately. In my opinion, I think that the whole second part of the epilogue (as well as some of the details in the various war sections) could have been left out. And that really is what ultimately led me to give this book 4 stars instead of 5 stars. If I had not been bent on finishing every single word, I would have been tempted to simply skip that last philosophical part of the epilogue. Had it left off at the end of part I of the epilogue, I really think I would have walked away from the book feeling like I would want to keep reading about the lives of the characters that we have gotten to know so well throughout the book. Instead, I found myself just plowing my way through that second and last part of the epilogue to get it finished. Sadly, by the last sentence of the book, I was glad it was done. So for me, I think the story would have had a better finish if it had ended after part one of the epilogue. But that’s just my humble opinion. 😉

I also think it’s these philosophical detours coupled with its immense length that makes it feel intimidating. I was certainly intimidated by the thought of reading it for the first time! But truly, despite the length and philosophy parts, this book is so incredibly readable and highly entertaining. Tolstoy’s writing truly is magnificent in this work.

And speaking of Tolstoy’s amazing writing, let’s take just a brief minute to look at how he wrote his characters. Tolstoy managed to write very complex, layered characters. So much so that I really can not pick a favorite character. He managed to capture human nature so well. The characters portray their own struggles with life, how to live life best, and what is important in life. Because of the length of this novel, we get to watch the characters grow and develop and change over many years. We see their good sides and their not so good sides. Even the ones that overall seem like not so good characters, Tolstoy succeeds in leading the reader to feel pity and sadness for them at some point. For example, Anatole. If I had to pick just one or two characters I consistently did not like, it would be him and his sister Helene. However, towards the end of the book, Tolstoy brings us to a scene on the battlefield with Anatole and Andrey when they are both injured and you can’t help but feel sorry for Anatole. In fact, this particular scene in the book is one of the most moving scenes in Andrey’s life in my opinion. Andrey himself is moved to not just pity for Anatole but also forgiveness and love. When you know what has happened between these two characters, then you understand how monumental this is for Andrey. It is a powerful scene!

Despite the the flaws in this novel that I mentioned, multiple times throughout the book I found myself remarking that Tolstoy’s writing in this novel was genius. It truly is a phenomenal work. Even though it is a long book, it really is extremely readable. It’s immersive, absorbing, and gripping.

If you want to give it a try, I wrote a post on Tips for Reading Classic Russian Literature. Be sure to check it out. Hopefully it will be helpful!

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Links to All of My Reflection Posts on War and Peace

Volume 1, Part 1

Volume 1, Part 2

Volume 1, Part 3

Volume 2, Parts 1-3

Volume 2, Parts 4-5

Volume 3

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Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Length: 128 pgs.
Genre: Classics
My Rating: 4 Stars

This is only the second title I’ve read by Edith Wharton. The other one I’ve read is The House of Mirth which I read with the lovely Cleo at Classical Carousel who hosted a wonderful read-along for it back in 2019. (You can see her first post for the read-along HERE.) I have read that Ethan Frome is different in both theme and tone than Wharton’s other works. But I have to disagree to some extent. I think this novella definitely has a similar feel to it as The House of Mirth in that both are definitely sad. Although, from what I remember, The House of Mirth felt like it had more upbeat parts to it than this novella. This short work is pretty melancholic and quite gloomy.

The main character of the book is indeed the title name – Ethan Frome. As the novella begins, Ethan is giving a person a ride in his sleigh. We immediately get the impression that Ethan is not one for a lot of talking. He seems like a quiet individual. And we don’t know if it’s a quietness due to nature or due to life experiences or both.

Ethan Frome drove in silence, the reins loosely held in his left hand, his brown seamed profile, under the helmet-like peak of the cap, relieved against the banks of snow like the bronze image of a hero. He never turned his face to mine, or answered, except in monosyllables, the questions I put, or such slight pleasantries as I ventured. He seemed a part of the mute melancholy landscape, an incarnation of its frozen woe, with all that was warm and sentient in him fast bound below the surface; but there was nothing unfriendly in his silence. I simply felt that he lived in a depth of moral isolation too remote for casual access, and I had the sense that his loneliness was not merely the result of his personal plight, tragic as I guessed that to be, but had in it, as Harmon Gow had hinted, the profound accumulated cold of many Starkfield winters.

The individual riding in Frome’s sleigh ends up taking us back in time and recounts Ethan’s story. We learn what has happened in his life and why he is where he is. It is a story of unfilled dreams; the struggle to eke out an existence when wrestling with loveless duty and forbidden emotions.

Despite the melancholic, gloomy tone, I felt this story was well-written and I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened. Truly, Wharton’s prose in Ethan Frome is magnificent. Here’s just a sample of the beautiful descriptive writing Wharton pens in this novella:

Day by day, after the December snows were over, a blazing blue sky poured down torrents of light and air on the white landscape, which gave them back in an intenser glitter.

The village lay under two feet of snow, with drifts at the windy corners. In a sky of iron the points of the Dipper hung like icicles and Orion flashed his cold fires. The moon had set, but the night was so transparent that the white house-fronts between the elms looked gray against the snow, clumps of bushes made black stains on it, and the basement windows of the church sent shafts of yellow light far across the endless undulations.

This story is somber, bleak, and heartbreaking. However, when I finished the last page I didn’t feel that sense of wishing I hadn’t read it. Quite the opposite actually. I knew I wanted to read it again. I read the last words and marveled at Wharton’s skillful writing. How well Wharton captured Frome’s life and his struggles. How brilliantly and effectively she wrote about the characters and the wintry New England landscape.

I think there’s more to glean from this novella that only can be derived from multiple readings. I felt the same with The House of Mirth. So I definitely have plans to read both of these again at some point. I also think this fits well as a seasonal read for the darker, colder days of the winter season.

War and Peace by Tolstoy – Volume 1, Part 3

*Potential Spoilers In This Post*

As I entered Part III, I was cautiously optimistic that maybe soon I might see Prince Andrey grow and change. So I was on the lookout for that. It was a bumpy ride, filled with doubts all the way until the very end of this section. Like this part for example:

Prince Andrey was always invigorated by guiding a young man and helping him on in the world. This propensity for helping other people – the kind of help he would have been too proud ever to accept for himself – kept him in close touch with the circle which had success in its gift, and which he found attractive. Only too pleased to take up Boris’s cause, he took him to see Prince Dolgorukov.” (p. 265-266)

To me, this reveals more of his propensity for wanting to be in circles where he will gain prestige. He wasn’t really that interested in helping Boris for the sake of helping Boris. It was more about him helping himself by helping Boris. Then there is this part where Andrey is thinking to himself:

I know many people are dear and precious to me, my father, my sister, my wife – my nearest and dearest, yet, however terrible and unnatural it may seem, I would give them all up for one moment of glory, triumph over men, to be loved by men I don’t even know, and never shall know, to be loved by these people there….” (p. 281)

But then, right before the section ended, there it was. That glimmer of hope that his character would begin to become different. It said:

He was just glad that someone had stopped and was standing over him, and his only desire was for these people to help him and bring him back to life, because life was good and he saw it all differently now.
(p. 311, emphasis mine)

I continue to watch Prince Andrey’s character with great interest.

In regards to Pierre, something I noticed about him in this section is that he appears to be pretty naive. How will this play out? He also seems to second guess his intuition. It is clear he knows deep down that marrying Helene is a mistake. “Neither did he know whether or not it would turn out to be a good thing – he had an inkling that it wouldn’t – but he did know it was going to happen.” (p. 219) He senses this is not a good decision…that it may not turn out well. And he continues to question it more and more. Why did he seem to think he had no choice but to marry her despite his nagging suspicion it was a wrong decision? I am puzzled by that.

“‘All this had to be and couldn’t have been otherwise,’ thought Pierre, ‘so it’s no use wondering whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing. It has to be a good thing because it’s something definite, and there’s no more of that agonizing suspense.’” (p. 227)

Now let’s talk about Marya. Oh my goodness! I felt so sorry for her. She desperately just wants to be loved….to be married, to have children.

In her thoughts about marriage, Princess Marya dreamt of family happiness, a home with children, but her first, her strongest, her most secret desire was for earthly love. This feeling was at its strongest when she was trying hardest to conceal it from others, and even from herself.” (p. 234)

I was so livid with her father for the way he spoke to her one time in front of company. It was horrifying! But then he turns around later and tells her that whether she marries Anatole or not is her choice. He said, “‘Remember this, Princess: I stick to the rule that a girl has every right to choose. And I give you complete freedom. Remember this: your happiness in life depends on your decision. No need to worry about me.’” (p. 244)

One of the things that I think Tolstoy does so well is that he portrays characters as very complex and multi-faceted. He allows a character to err, to have flaws, to have greatness, to do good….all wrapped up in one. His characters aren’t fairy-tale characters. They are real in all the messiness of life.

Tolstoy’s writing is phenomenal. Here are just a few of the passages I marked that I thought were so well written:

all of them felt they were doing something profound, solemn and serious. Every general and every soldier was aware of his own insignificance, like a tiny grain of sand in an ocean of humanity, yet as a part of that vast whole they sensed a huge collective strength.” (p. 260)

The intense activity that had begun that morning in the Emperors’ headquarters and then stimulated all the ensuing activity was like the first turn of the centre wheel in a great tower clock. One wheel began its slow rotation, another one turned, then another, and round they went faster and faster, wheels and cogs all revolving, chimes playing, figures popping in and out, and the hands measuring time, all because of that first movement.” (p. 273-274)

When the sun had completely emerged from the fog, and the fields and the mist were ablaze with its brilliance…” (p. 291)

There’s so much more I could talk about for this section. It is such an amazing novel already!

Watership Down by Richard Adams

Watership Down by Richard Adams
Length: 472 pgs.
Genre: Classics
Rating: 5 stars

This book. Wow! I never would have thought a book about rabbits could be so engrossing! It put me in mind so much of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. How? First, the tone and feel of it. Second, it’s the story of a journey which is an epic adventure. And third, it is world-building.

Tone and Feel to the Story and the Epic Journey
These two kind of go hand in hand. This is a story about a group of rabbits that leave their warren because of the potential threat of danger. They feel danger is imminent and they must leave and find somewhere else to live, even though the thought of it terrifies them. So they embark on this daunting journey. It takes great courage and much resourcefulness. They face threats, danger, and sometimes what seems like insurmountable odds. And the ending very much made me feel like I felt when reading the part in The Hobbit when Bilbo comes back to the Shire after his big adventure.

World-building
Yes…worldbuilding…but in a different sense. It is a real world of rabbits and nature but to a different level. It is somewhat anthropomorphic. The animals can talk. They have a history. Their warren has a history. They have stories they pass down. The animals each have unique and distinct personalities and they have a certain level of feelings. The author does point out, though, certain areas where the animals and humans differ.

In this novel, Richard Adams managed to represent the nature of life in this story of rabbits. There are themes of friendship, respect, honor, duty, loyalty, perseverance, fear, and courage. There are wars, fighting, and a great deal of drama. It is a story of survival, triumphs, and growth. The characters have depth and the story is full of beauty and richness.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Length: 462 pgs.
Genre: Classics
Rating: 5 stars

Earlier this year, I got to read this wonderful classic aloud to my daughter for the first time. (It was my second time reading it.) It was the perfect read for the beginning of the year when the weather was colder and we wanted to cozy up with a good book.

Little Women is a coming-of-age story about four sisters; but it’s so much more than that. It’s about sisterhood, family bonds, respect for oneself and for others, and being true to oneself. I love that in this novel, the girls are encouraged to be who they are no matter what the societal norms were for women at the time. It’s true, certain homemaking skills and such were necessary at the time and you see the girls learning these things. Yet you also see, for instance:

  • Jo pursuing her dream of writing and her parents encouraging her in that endeavour.
  • You see Amy going abroad with Aunt March to pursue painting and she is encouraged in her endeavours.
  • Meg chooses to be a housewife and she is encouraged in that endeavour.
  • Beth says she is content with a life at home and is encouraged in that.

The girls’ dreams and aspirations are varied and they are each encouraged to be true to who they are and follow their goals and dreams. Of course, it is certainly more involved than that and there are many lessons learned along the way. Marmee, the girls’ mother, is a fountain of wisdom. She is loved, admired, and respected by her daughters.

I enjoyed Little Women the first time I read it; but I absolutely loved it even more this second time around. There is great depth to all of the main characters in this novel and, at least for me, the novel improved even more upon a second reading. Of course, once you read the book, you must follow it up with watching the movie production of it starring Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon! (which is my all-time favorite movie version of the novel)

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Length: 750 pgs.
Genre: Classics
Rating: 4 stars

There are some books that I just have to sit with after reading them before I write about them in order to think about what I thought of the book. Anna Karenina was definitely one of those books. Admittedly though, this is a book that is hard to write about without giving spoilers. The format for this review will be a little different. First are some little tidbits about the book and then after that I will share some of my thoughts.

📚 Anna Karenina has been called the psychological novel of the 19th century. After reading it, I can see why it has been described as such.

📚 Anna Karenina and War and Peace are considered Tolstoy’s masterpieces.

📚 Doestoyevsky called it “a perfect creation.”

📚 This novel is primarily focused on two love stories: one an adulterous affair and the other a love story characterized by mutual, growing love and understanding.

📚 The opening line says a lot and sets the stage for what is to come. It says: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” (p. 5)

At times frustrating, at times moving, at times shocking, at times immensely sad…this novel can take you through a gamut of emotions as you get lost into the lives of the characters. Tolstoy crafted some very complex characters in two sweeping love story story-lines that captivate you and keep you reading. Admittedly, there were a couple of sections that were slower for me to get through, such as pages of political discussions amongst his characters and such. But that in no way detracted from the story. This is definitely a book to discuss with other readers; which means it makes a great book club pick.

War and Peace by Tolstoy – Volume 1, Part 1

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!