This is the second time I’ve read this book, or at least for a good 75% of it. The first time I tried to read War and Peace it was a pretty big failure. I got to page 67 in my edition and couldn’t bring myself to pick it up again. Now doing this buddy read I can also learn that I remembered nothing from my first read through! I didn’t remember any of the events, thankfully that has really changed this time around! Part of this is because I’m reading it at a later point in life and have changed how I analyse my reads, and part of it is because I’m reading it chapter by chapter each day. But the biggest reason is because this is a buddy read. I’m reading this along with Olivia from Olivia’s Catastrophe and being able to message her after almost every chapter and discuss what is happening, our thoughts on what will happen next and our opinions on each character has really solidified the story in my head! It’s made it to be such an enjoyable experience so far and not only am I really excited to continue on with this for the coming months (and possibly the year) but also I now know how I’d like to get through those intimidating classics in the future! Chapter by chapter buddy reads all the way!
Within this first book we are introduced to the majority of the main characters. This book takes place away from the war itself and therefore I assume there will be some military individuals who we’ve not met yet. Mostly we’re in Moscow, although we do take a brief jaunt to the countryside in order to meet a father and sister. This isn’t a summary of the book so I won’t be going into detail, but there are a few points I definitely want to mention! Pierre is such a bean, he’s so lovely and so far into the story he’s my favourite character! He’s incredibly naïve about how Russian society functions but he’s doing his best, bless him, and he has good intentions with his actions (not including the bear, but we’ll let him off with that one). I’m so excited to follow him further into the story after the events at the end of this book change his life dramatically!
I love the friendship that we see between the two Anna’s. One is… well. She’s annoying (Anna D), but their close friendship is really sweet and Anna M is a caring individual. Anna D doesn’t have many funds, but does have a young son. So she’s doing all that she can to get him in a better place in life. So whilst it’s annoying and the secondhand embarrassment is real, it really does make you feel for her as a mother. Boris, the son in question, is quite embarrassed by his mothers antics, but seems to get along well with Pierre and he seems nice. If this was a modern novel I would probably be shipping them (and I still kinda am) but here I’m hoping for a good friendship to come between the two of them. Anna M cares deeply for her friend, and so far it looks as though she also cares for those around her. This is shown by her attentiveness to Anna D’s plight even at moments where you wouldn’t fault her for forgetting, and also for the assistance she provides Pierre. This might just be attempting to influence him, but at the same time it really does help him in a time when he would most likely make mistakes, and she does it in a subtle manner that doesn’t embarrass him.
Another group that is lovely to watch is the Rostova children. It’s so nice to see them acting “normal” and relaxed even in the presence of these adults who are doing their best to comply by strict social etiquette. They’re strongly in tune with their emotions which can wildly swing from weeping to great joy. It is a little jarring to hear them speaking of marriage and then to mention their age being, in one case, 12. It’s definitely a product of it’s time and something to be aware of. But despite that I’m excited to see them develop and all the romantic scenes that we’ve seen so far have been very cute and wholesome.
From the section titles for book two, it does look as though this is going to be much more focused on the war side of the story, with the focus switching back to society in Moscow for book three. Fingers crossed I enjoy the war portions of this epic as much as I’ve enjoyed this first book! But if not? Well at least I know I have more of Moscow society to come in the near future.
The plan for this read had originally been to read a chapter a day for the year. We’ve now started to read 2 chapters on Sunday and might be slipping in 2 chapters on another day too. I’m not sure how this will develop over the year, but it does mean that I’m confident we’ll finish this by the end of 2021 and I’m still very much excited to keep reading and discussing this with Olivia!!