Wednesday, March 2, 2011

War and Peace - Read Along Check In #4

I have found War and Peace a challenge.  I understand it's awesomeness, and appreciate Tolstoy's purpose, but simply find it long, tedious, full of diversions in which I'm not interested, and containing far too much of the War.

In fairness, some parts of this book were inspired, and I enjoyed some of the more philosophical reflecitons on the nature of war, death, and love interspersed throughout.  I liked some of the social reflections, the parties and intrigue.  The characters grew and expanded, I particularly liked Nicholai/Nicholas Rostov here, and also Mary/Marya, and their relationship.  Pierre remained a frustrating favourite, I kinda wanted him to just snap out of it.  It sucked that Helene died with little or no exploration, that was obviously a plot device, clumsy.

There were patches I actively didn't like: the wolf hunting scene (that was a WTF moment); the overall portrayal of women, they never quite reached the real world image that was true of some of the male characters, even the central women stayed as stereotypic, seeming to lack that final acceptance of women as actual human actors required to make them fully real; the long descriptions of politics and tactics littered throughout - in trying to be an accurate history, Tolstoy parted ways with having a good story.

What do I think of the book.  Long.  Wordy.  Detailed.  Slow.  Mixed with moments of beauty, grand ideas, and close characterisation (for blokes).  Overall, I didn't like it, but the book itself as a reading experience will stay with me for a long time.  I'm glad I read it, and I'm also glad it's over.

Thank you, Allie, at A Literary Odyssey, for hosting this as a readalong, I never would have finished it otherwise!!


Kristi said...

I'm sorry you didn't really like it. You make some great points. I too was frustrated by his characterization of women.

Although I enjoyed it a little more, it is definitely one I will never read again. The war sections were pretty painful and by part II of the epilogue I was ready to be done.

Selene said...

I know, I'm just glad it's over!!