Book reviews, musings and waffle from a British lit addict

War & Peace Read-along: Week Two, Books and Three!

According to my Kindle edition, this week saw me pass the 25% in War and Peace.  Thankfully, it still feels as though this whole thing should be a lot more like hard work!  On Friday evening, I hadn’t quite made it to Book Three (work has been crazy busy this week and has seen more than one 14 hour days…) and thought that this week would be the week that I drifted off schedule.  But I grabbed a blanket and settled down on a slightly gloomy Saturday afternoon and…the pages flew by.  Where Book Two was all war, Book Three saw a return to civilian life and some good old-fashioned family manoeuvring before we were thrown back to the front.

In case you haven’t twigged by now, this is the second post in Hanna’s War and Peace Read-along – there will be slight spoilers for the story so far so proceed with caution.

1) Do you feel that the tone of the novel has changed this week? Has that affected your enjoyment?

Definitely.  I wasn’t overly keen when I first started Book Two but I adjusted to the shift in focus pretty quickly and it hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm yet.  I get a bit glazed over with the more lengthy military strategy sessions but I liked how characters that we’d already been introduced to popped up every now and then to stop it being dull.  I welcomed the brief respite from descriptions of dead horses and mud back to Pierre and the Kuragins but it wasn’t an overwhelming feeling of relief, which I suppose bodes well for the rest of the novel.  I like the war.  I like the peace.  All is well.

2) Do you feel comfortable telling other people that you’re reading War & Peace?  
In real life?  Not so much.  I’ve talked about it with family and Boyfriend has been subjected to plenty of questions about Napoleon, military terms and other historical details that I could google but prefer to bug him with but outside that I haven’t mentioned it.  But then, that’s largely because I don’t work with anybody who I would chat to about what I’m reading and I haven’t seen anyone in the last couple of weeks that I discuss books with (I missed book club because of a particularly heavy workload on the day).  If someone asked, I would mention the book but would almost certainly make a self-deprecating joke at the same time to prove that I’m not pretentious or reading it to seem like a smart arse.
3) How do you feel about Helene and Pierre’s marriage? Happily ever after or mildly doomed?

Oh, doomed.  Definitely doomed.  I’m not sure about Pierre’s intellect and Helene seems a bit vapid so maybe they deserve each other?  Given that he seemed to base his decision to marry her on the fact that she’s pretty and that she will probably look good naked (and he’s apparently only just realised that he’s a bloke that finds that kind of thing interesting), it’s unlikely to be a match made in heaven.
4) Should Marya have married Anatole or should she have stayed at home with her Father?
My heart hurts so much for Marya!  Or Mary, as she is to me…either way, her trying to find something to wear and a way to do her hair that made her look nice was so sad.  As was the moment that she spied sneaky little Mademoiselle Bourienne canoodling with him in the conservatory and realised that the happy married life she’d imagined herself having with Anatole just wasn’t going to pan out.  I’m glad that she didn’t marry him because I like her and can’t bear him and his arrogance but I wish that she’d managed her refusal better.  Why be demure and say that you’re just going to stay at home with your terrifying father when you could be all “I don’t want to marry him because he’s a womaniser and a dick and I caught him smooching one of my only friends!”?  Because it would be unseemly, probably, but I still wish she’d been a little less self-sacrificing.  I so hope things look up for her.
5) Andrei has featured in a lot of the war-related chapters so far. Do you think he’ll ever make it to military greatness?

I still think he’s a tool but I find him slightly less hateful than I did in Book One.  But that isn’t quite the question.  I actually do think that he’ll do well, although maybe not single-handedly win the war for Russia as he seems to believe he will.  He seems like the kind of chap that will be able to schmooze the army’s bigwigs and will keep on finding himself in the right place at the right time.

If you’re reading along too, head HERE to link up your thoughts on Books Two and Three!  See you next week, read-alongers 🙂