Saturday, January 22, 2011

War and Peace - Read Along Check In #1

Well, I'm through the first volume, a little late due to being distracted, and having no ereader during the floods here!

War and Peace, what does one say?  I'm liking it better than I thought, but not as much as I'd prefer, given how much of the damn thing there is left!  I hit some serious battle scenes, which I've always found tedious no matter the book, and War and Peace is no exception, what a suprise given it's title.  It's not even battle, some of it, just never ending warfare intel and politics.  Didn't love it.

The court scenes in the first part of the book, I liked some of this, there were elements of that glimpse into other times that I love in classic literature, some of the characters were interesting enough, I like the aloof Andrei/Andrew Bolkonsky, he seems to have a smirk of cynicism that I appreciate, and his fervent sister was well, if stereotypically, drawn.  The letter she writes in Book one is like an extended eyeroll of heated religiousity and "obedience" - nice!

Pierre is the character most people seem to like best, but he just seems a little dull and easily led thus far, I'm not burning to find out what happens next to him.  I also found the introduction of one of the main love interests, Natalya/Natasha, when she is 13 to be more than a little off-putting.  I know!  Let's set up our personification of feminine awesomeness as a young girl, a child really, then she'll be super easy for all the grown men around her to love and worship, and lust after!  That's not problematic at all!!  /sarcasm.  Again, didn't love it.

Book 1 is like the world's longest introduction, it could do with some serious editing.  Is that bad...I suppose one isn't supposed to say such things about Tolstoy.  I was also not as up with my French, or my Russian turn-of-the-century-in-jokes as Tolstoy seems to expect, so often felt like the odd one out at a rather formal and lengthy dinner party put on by people who speak a lot of French for a country getting invaded by France.

As a rampaging feminist, I'm struggling a little with the "men = active, women = stay home and die in childbirth whilst obeying their elders and keeping demure" dichotomy, [not to mention the 13 year old girls are super awesome, you should really fall for one right now!!] but hey, that's par for the course with classic literature (and all too much modern lit too, sad to say).  Overall, I did like the machinations of some of the society "ladies," especially Anna Mikhaylovna, Boris' mother, who will stop at nothing to advance him in society.  I liked her drive and effortless use of her few remaining cards to put one over the many Princes in the story, manipulate everyone, and get her own way.  My less favourite characters are the "typical ladies" or romantic interests, they are a little tedious and obvious - but hey, I'm optimistic given I've got so far left to read, maybe it'll turn around.

Overall, it's getting there, but I'm more than a bit tempted to take a break and read something else!  It's not an easy book to pick up in between demands from my small child, either, so I am a little behind with it generally.  Must pick up the pace to keep up with the other read-a-longers!

The edition I'm reading:


Kristi said...

I agree with you about Prince Andrei's sister--her piety is kind of irritating. The female characters are all kind of extreme, but I guess it doesn't bother me as much based on the time period that it was written. I understand what you mean about it being difficult to pick up when you only have a small amount of time. I find myself only reading it at night for that reason.

I'm sorry to hear about the floods. I hope you were able to stay safe and that life is getting back to normal. Good luck with the next volume!

Selene said...

Thanks Kristi! We're back to normal here now, though there's still many who are affected.

I'm enjoying W&P more now, but still finding it a little bit of a "chore". Just hasn't captured me. Keeping at it though.