War and Peace read-along

War & Peace Read-along: Week Nine, Book Twelve

Aren’t bank holidays just the best?!  Two extra days off seem to make such a huge difference. And because I’m British, I’m going to mention that the weather has been delightful.  I actually managed to sit outside and read yesterday afternoon, which was glorious. Today would have been much the same  but then some friends came over and we spent the day sitting outside eating and drinking instead – what can you do?  Still, I’ve pretty much finished this week’s reading I think so if I’m not completely flat out with work this week, I’ll actually get more time to squeeze in something that doesn’t feature Napoleon!

1)  With the multiple deaths, this week started to feel a little more like Tolstoy was starting to wrap up some of his characters’ stories. How do you feel about the way Helene’s death was dealt with compared to Andrew’s?
For some reason, this week felt like the beginning of the end.  Obviously it was the end for Helene and Andrew but I just felt like loose ends were starting to come together and that the end was in sight!
Helene’s death was classic Tolstoy killing off one of his characters in a blink-and-you-miss-it fashion but Andrew’s seemed to have more thought about it.  I mean, it wasn’t quite as much page space as you’d expect for the death of one of the major characters in an epic novel but it was more considered.  He was at least the focus of an entire chapter and got to do some musing about his impending death before he was written out.  I wouldn’t necessarily put it entirely down to gender but it does seem as though Tolstoy just can’t write a good death scene!
2)  I certainly wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a Pierre fan but his experiences as a prisoner were quite moving. How do you think Pierre is going to fare as we approach the end of the novel?

I’m dying to know what spoiler Hanna saw that has her so irritated!  My prediction for Pierre, though, is some kind of underwhelming death.  OR he’s going to have some kind of epiphany while he’s a prisoner and is going to renounce his wealth when he’s free and devote himself to whatever harebrained scheme pops into his head at the time.  Given the amount of time we’ve spent reading about him, I’d be disappointed if he got the Helene treatment.  Speaking of whom, I’m curious about what Pierre’s reaction will be to the news of the death of his wife.  And her divorcing him and her affairs too, I suppose.  It seems weird that that hasn’t really been dealt with so far.

In short, I don’t foresee a happy ending for Pierre.

3)  Now the competition’s opened back up, who are you backing for Nicholas Rostov’s future wife, rich heiress Mary or devoted Sonya? 

Please, please let it be Mary!  I’ve liked Sonya less as the novel’s gone on but I did admire her honesty where she was talking about being self-sacrificing and how she only really likes being self-sacrificing when it makes her look good.  Fair.  I’d been feeling a little bit sad for her for being thwarted in her romantic ambitions until that point but the fact that she was “giving up” Nicholas just because she thought that in actual fact he wouldn’t be able to marry Mary and would come back to her by default sealed me as  a Mary backer.

4)   The Rostovs have always been my favourite family in War and Peace and seeing them from Mary’s perspective was a little bit sad.  How is everyone feeling about how things are going for them?

I feel so sad for them.  When Mary arrived and clocked Count Rostov as a worn out man, I really felt for him.  He’s not great when it comes to estate management but I feel as though he means well and I miss the exuberant Count Rostov of the early chapters that could execute some killer dance moves when the occasion called for it.  I never thought that I’d be hoping for someone to marry into money so that the family could be saved but I am.  I hope that Nicholas marries Mary and that she saves the whole family from being ruined.  But I hope that she doesn’t boot out Sonya in the process, because I like to think that they’re all better than that (other than Countess Rostov, who isn’t really in my good books).  Natasha can shove off, obviously.

See you next week as we really start to close in on those epilogues!