(Review) War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Publisher: Modern Library.
Genre: Historical fiction, Napoleonic Wars, Russia, France.
Rating: 3 stars for good.
Translation by Constance Garnett
Introduction by A.N. Wilson
Amazon (Kindle copy is .99)
Leo Tolstoy 1828-1910.
|The Battle of Borodino.|
Sometimes a book summary can go on and on too much, especially in an epic book such as War and Peace. The following summary is going to be just the facts.
Several aristocratic Russian families make up the principal characters in War and Peace.
The story moves back and forth between the Napoleonic War of the early 1800s and civilians living in Moscow.
The civilian parts of the book are filled with parties, soirees, love interests, marriage and children, marital difficulties, infidelities, sickness, and death.
The war parts of the book are filled with battle planning, offense and defense strategies, maiming and death, prisoners, defeat, and victory.
For both civilians and those in the military, the after-affects of suffering and rebuilding a life are shown.
Leo Tolstoy at several points in the book will take a detour in order to give philosophical thoughts on war, historians, and people (for example Napoleon.)
"The subject of history is the life of peoples and of humanity. To catch and pin down in words-that is, to describe directly the life, not only of humanity, but even of a single people, appears to be impossible." Page 1344. Part Two of Epilogue.
Over-all I think the book is a solid good rating.
I did not fall in the love with the book. However, I do believe it is a memorable book.
The length and content of the story is haunting. However, I did not feel an investment in any of the characters.
I am still surprised that I read the book in a couple of months. I feel an accomplishment in reading War and Peace
I loved Tolstoy's description of scenery. His description gave me a panoramic view.
Early in the story, there is a dialogue between a husband and wife. The dialogue was realistic and I felt uncomfortable, as if I was in the room with them and over-hearing a couple's argument. I felt this was a significant writing ability, to bring the reader into the room of the characters during a sensitive and uncomfortable scene.
Tolstoy's strong ability to write about a battle scene is significant. The intense nature of a battle is not easy to capture, but my heart raced during these moments.
If I had to choose one thing about this story that I felt was of most importance: I would choose the after-affects of war for the soldiers. Tolstoy shows the weariness, suffering, physical pain, loneliness, yearning for home, readjusting to civilian life, regret, loss, sadness; and the exhaustion of mind, body, and spirit.
I find it ironic that a book I'm currently reading, A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael, mentions War and Peace. Carmichael is quoted as stating she did not like the book.
"Bad rhymes in parts, bad writing all through." The quote is taken from her book, From Sunrise Land.
Links of interest:
The Guardian, War and Peace: many stories, many lives.
Biography of Leo Tolstoy.