War and Peace Readalong: Vol. 1
Friday, January 14, 2011Posted by Melissa (Avid Reader)
Welcome to my first post for the readalong hosted by A Literary Odyssey. I made it through the first volume of War & Peace (about 300 pages), which I have a feeling was the hardest part. So far I really am loving it.
Tolstoy's writing is wonderful. Using his unique blend of historical fact and complex characters he creates an epic story. In the first volume there's a lot of French dialogue, complicated names, war scene and soirees, but I think that once I'm invested in the book and know who each of the characters are, it will be easier to chug along. I did find myself frequently referring to the family tree chart. The tricky part is that each character is known by about 5 names!
One of my favorite sections is where Princess Marya's father is talking to her about a marriage proposal from Anatole. He says, "I hold to the rule that a girl has the full right to choose. And I give you freedom. Remember one thing: the happiness of your life depends on your decision." (p.230)
I wouldn't have expected that from a male author in the 19th century. But I should have remembered, this is the man who wrote Anna Karenina, the story of a woman who falls in love with someone who is not her stuffy husband. Still, I loved that her father gave her the freedom to choose who she wanted to marry.
On the flip side of that same coin is Pierre. He is sweet, good-natured, etc., but his "falling in love" with Helene made my respect for his character plummet. As he notices how beautiful she has become, he begins to justify his previous bad opinions of her. He tries to get to know her better, but truly learns nothing that should change his first opinion.
"But she's stupid, I've said myself that she's stupid," he thought. (p.207)
"Was I mistaken before, or am I mistaken now? No, she's not stupid; no, she's a wonderful girl!" (p.209)
I understand that he's shuffled into this marriage by those around him, but still, grow a backbone! I'm hoping we'll get the chance to watch his character mature as the book progresses.
So onward through the next 979 pages. I can't wait.