Book reviews, musings and waffle from a British lit addict

War & Peace Read-along: Week Five, Book Eight

HALF WAY THROUGH!  Half way through is insane.  I really wasn’t convinced when we started out that I’d be able to keep up and here I am half way through!  It feels pretty bloody good.  And there was no weird dancing in this week’s reading and it was short (well played, Hanna) and packed full of scandal!  Things are going swimmingly. 
Despite being pretty short, there was much gawping by me, lots of frustrating grumbling about a certain young idiot and plenty of bits that I’m excited to see others’ views on.
1) Could the disastrous meeting between Marya and Natasha have gone any other way? Who was to blame?
Absolutely!  I don’t like either of the women particularly but I at least feel sorry for Mary so I’d like to blame Natasha.  I kind help but think that maybe it was mostly Mary, though.  Or at least, to be juvenile about it, that Mary started it.  Natasha was a guest in Mary’s home and she was there to get to know her prospective new family (albeit not quite of her own volition) so I feel as though the onus was really on Mary to put aside her jealousy and welcome Natasha.  Obviously Natasha getting snooty didn’t help matters.  
OH and all of this reminds me that I’m excessively glad that Marya Dmitrievna wasn’t just a guest at a party that we’d never get to see again.  She’s about the only character where I haven’t thought “I think I like her but…”.  I just like her and the Rostovs need someone around that’ll kick their arses when they’re being ridiculous.

2) Everyone seems to be secretly considering Marya for marriage at the moment. Do you think it will ever happen for her? Was Boris right to pick Julie?

I will give Tolstoy kudos for one thing – it’s quite nice reading about men prowling around after rich heiresses rather than the other way round!  I don’t know if that says something about Russian society at the time but I don’t think I’ve read many books set in England in the same time period where the men are openly heiress hunting.  I’m obviously happy to be proven wrong but I’m interesting myself for the time being. ANYway, do I think Mary will get married?  No.  I think she’ll keep not noticing when people are flirting with her, offending potential suitors, making excuses for not meeting people or taking up opportunities and just generally ruining her own chances.  She makes me sad.  Her father’s awful, her brother’s a bit of a tool, she didn’t like her penfriend in real life and lost that small ray of hope.  The girl makes my heart hurt.

I’m disappointed in Boris for not giving Mary more of a chance to notice his advances and I think that he thought that he could maybe love her but obviously it’s more important to snag yourself a wealthy wife than it is to wait for pesky love to turn up so for that he deserves stupid Julie and her stupid weird book of gloomy poetry.

Incidentally, one thing I’m glad to know is that I’m not the only person who was confused by the Kuragin/Karagin thing!

3) There’s too much drama with Natasha for me to formulate an all-encompassing question so…I don’t know. Discuss.

What a MORON!  I felt sort of sorry for her when Anatole first deciding she was his next conquest because he is obviously quite the sexual predator but she went too far with the undying love and the eloping nonsense.  I get that he’s handsome and she’s young and she misses the fiancé that’s been away ever since they got engaged but really, Natasha?  You REALLY want to elope with a man who you’ve met a couple of times?  And then you’re going to try and poison yourself when the only two characters that aren’t vile save you from becoming the second wife of a dickhead that targeted you because you were young and would “lose your head”?!  ARGH!  I enjoyed reading it but that does not mean I liked it.  She’s an idiot.  The only advantage to her idiocy is that it’s given Pierre the opportunity to stop mumbling to himself about the Freemasons and do something useful.  I liked him in this book and I liked the way that he was with Andrew when he got back.

Also, my weird edition called the chapter that they were smooching at the party “Anatole makes love to Natasha” and I’ve got to be honest – WHAT?  If she’s pregnant in a few chapters, though, we’ll know it was true.

4) Lots of characters are being fairly dickish this week. Who wins the prize for the person you’d most like to slap?

What a truly great question!  There were a lot of characters being dickish this week!  I found Helene quite vile this week, what with her excessive bosoming around the place and luring Natasha to a party so that Anatole could have his way with her (apparently).  Anatole was obviously a complete creep.  Dolokhov didn’t redeem himself from his previous misdeeds and is still clearly out to be a pain in the arse of society.  If I could slap one face, however, it would be Natasha’s.  Without a second thought. And I’d enjoy it.  I’m not a massive Andrew fan but I thought he was improving with Natasha so if she can’t keep it together for a single year without constructing a tragic plan to elope, it’s a poor effort.  Plus, she was awful to Sonya, who’s basically one of the only people who’s actually decent.  Shove off, Natasha.

I’ve read one chapter of this week’s reading and it looks like we’re back to war…but we’re half way through so nothing can defeat us now!  Come on us!!  See you next week 🙂