I know everybody else seems to have got to the halfway point last week, but in my copy we passed it this week. Huzzah! I keep on saying this, but I honestly didn't think I would make it this far. This week's chapters were hardly inspiring though. Hmm. This probably wasn't helped by the fact that I've had a really bad cold since last Tuesday which has made my thinking a little bit foggy, so I'm actually kind of struggling to recall what happened in the book clearly, even though I finished the reading on Saturday. Oh well..
1) Honestly, by this point in the book (55% or so), do you think War & Peace could have been shorter or did it need to be this long?
It definitely could have been shorter. There are parts that I don't think anybody could really complain about being cut, like the boring hunting bit from a couple of weeks ago. I guess though with it being this length it does have something for everyone? Like the first chapter this week about why wars happen would be interesting if you liked philosophy, and the war bits in general would be interesting if you are interested in military tactics or how wars were fought then (this is the most interesting bit about the war parts for me - the way that people fought seems to be really radically different than how wars seem to work now. I am sure there are people who care more about the war stuff who hate when the novel goes into gossip/scandal mode, although those are my favourite bits!
2) Do you feel there's been another change in tone? Why do you think Tolstoy keeps doing this? Do you like it?
Hmm I'm not sure I'd say it's a change in tone, in that the book is kind of a bit all over the place tonally anyway. It's definitely different from last week, but we have had these kinds of chapters before. I know it took a lonnnng time to write the book, so I wonder if the shifts in tone throughout the book reflect the time in life that he wrote certain parts? Maybe! I like it when it shifts to a tone that I enjoy, haha.
3) Natasha. AAAAAAAAAND GO.
Natasha didn't really annoy me this week. Of all of the posts for last week that I saw, I seemed to be the least annoyed with her anyway, so I found her quite tolerable this week. And she apparently gave her family joy by being ill and giving them all something to do?? I think maybe everybody who is supposed to be good in this novel just has a massive martyr complex, it's weird. Anyway, she wasn't too bad although she obviously is still being quite selfish, but I think maybe she's taking the time to reflect on her actions and hopefully she'll end up being a better person?
4) Pierre has convinced himself (via numerology, obviously) that Napoleon is the Antichrist from The Book of Revelation. Is this in character for Pierre? How do you think he'll act on this?
Oh Pierre. He's so... gullible. And weird. I don't know. I think it is in character, as he did hear about the freemasons and immediately jumped on board with that, so yeah. I think he must just be really bored, so he just grabs onto whatever crazy thing floats his way. I don't know if he'll do anything about this! I bet it was just Tolstoy finding some book which mentions that at some point and going "YES! The novel definitely isn't long enough yet, now I have another weird tangent to go off on for no reason! Huzzah!". I did enjoy the way that Pierre played around with his name to get it to fit the pattern, and then was very pleased when it did even though what he did didn't actually make any sense. Oh Pierre.
Is anybody else thinking that now there are going to be two Rostovs off fighting, one of them is definitely either going to be horrifically injured, or die at some point soon? I have a theory about what is going to happen, so I am interested to see if I'm right. (I would write it here, but I hate spoilers myself, and I have read fan theories before that have actually turned out to be correct and I've ended up feeling disappointed. Mind you, I am REALLY BAD at predicting what is going to happen, even when it is apparently really really obvious to everyone else, so I'm probably wrong anyway!)
Another week, even fewer characters that I don't actively dislike. Haha. I managed to finish my reading on time this week, yayy!
1) Could the disastrous meeting between Marya and Natasha have gone any other way? Who was to blame?
I don't think so. They were both being a bit stupid about it in the first place (if I recall correctly - I think my brain was so overtaken by the Natasha/Anatole drama that happens later that I have forgotten the details!), so I think they share the blame. I would say that Natasha is more to blame for it, but can you imagine how awkward it would be meeting the family of your significant other without said significant other not actually being there!? So much as I grew to dislike Natasha this week, I don't think it's entirely her fault.
2) Everyone seems to be secretly considering Marya for marriage at the moment. Do you think it will ever happen for her? Was Boris right to pick Julie?
I hope not, because marriage doesn't seem to be a particularly great thing in this book! Seeing as she is one of the characters who I actually don't dislike, I want her to get away from her family and.. I don't know, do some charity work or something because she would be good at that. And I think she would be much happier than she is at the moment. Poor Marya! Although she could do with learning to actually stick up for herself and that she doesn't just have to accept what is going on around her.
Boris and Julie? I don't really care. Maybe Julie will be more likely to actually stand up for herself, which is good? I do feel though in some ways that the message of this book is that marriage sucks, so I find it hard to support anything to do with marriage!!
3) There's too much drama with Natasha for me to formulate an all-encompassing question, so... I don't know. Discuss.
Oh Natasha. The Rostovs are slowly slipping down my tolerability scale (seriously, I really don't like anyone in this novel at all. I don't mind not having any likeable characters, but given how many characters there are I was expecting to like at least a couple of them!). They all seem so completely naive and clueless as to what is going on around them, and don't seem to be able to grasp the idea that people might not necessarily be what they seem on the surface. I would like to give Natasha the benefit of the doubt and say that she probably didn't really mean to hurt people in the way that she did or act so horribly, but she seems completely incapable of thinking through anything that she does or considering the consequences of any of her actions.
I am not really the biggest Andrei fan (or a fan at all), but seeing as he does seem to be making an effort to be a better person, I do feel bad for him. I think though that Anatole deserves his fair share of the blame for what happened here, obviously, but Natasha could have just not gone OOH PRETTY and run after him the way that she did. If you're mooning over someone for months and going on about how in love you are with them, you don't then run off with the next handsome person who pays you a bit of attention!
Urgh. I don't know. On the one hand I do feel a bit sorry for her as her only purpose in life seems to be to get married, which must be pretty depressing. I sort of don't blame her for wanting a little bit of excitement in her life? Still though...
4) Lots of characters are being fairly dickish this week. Who wins the prize for the person you'd most like to slap?
At the moment I just feel very grateful that I don't live in the same kind of world or society that is portrayed in the book! So I'm not really that angry with any of the characters, just grateful its not me. If I have to choose though, I think I'll go for Anatole, as he seems to just go through life lying to everyone so he can have affairs with as many women as possible, and thinking that being charming can get him out of anything. I mean, obviously it can because it seems to be working for him, but he is a completely despicable human being. If the women who are going into it knew what kind of man he was then I wouldn't have a problem with it, but he obviously manipulates people into doing what he wants like he did with Natasha (she is obviously not entirely blameless, but I do feel she is more the victim here of both Anatole and her own stupidity). I am so glad that I don't know anybody like that!
There was soooo much drama this week, which is good as I think I like this book best when it is drama filled! Fingers crossed for another drama filled week!!
Yayyy week 4! And we're almost halfway through the book!!!
I had (another) bad week this week - I started reading the chapters on Sunday!!! I really could have done what I did last week and read the chapters early in the week too, but I was putting off doing my taxes, so also put off all of the other things that I wanted to do and instead spent hours on my phone doing nothing. Does anybody else do that? It's so stupid, if I'm not going to do stuff I'm supposed to be doing, I may as well do stuff that I want to do, rather than mindlessly play stupid games.
Then when I did start reading, the first two chapters were all about Prince Andrei who I still dislike so I was put off slightly by that, but once I actually got into this week's reading properly I zoomed through it. Who knew that this would be a book where catching up wouldn't actually be a painful process? Yay War and Peace!
Anyway, on with this week's questions! Thank you as always to Hanna for being lovely and giving us all set things to talk about each week!
1) Do you feel that the tone of the novel changed this week?
Yes, a little... for one thing, there was almost no focus at all on the war aspect, it just seemed to mostly be about the mundane details of everyday life. Nothing that much really happened this week, which was a bit of a change from the whirlwind that was week 3!
2) Do you think that the story is uniquely Russian, or could it have been set somewhere else?
I feel like I don't have enough knowledge about either Russia or anywhere else at this period of time to be able to answer this! I do end up feeling quite a big culture gap sometimes when reading as I find it difficult to see how conversations work sometimes (as in, somebody will ask a question and then somebody else will reply with something that doesn't seem to make sense to me - is this a Russian thing, is it just the translation I'm reading, or is it just me being thick?)
But if a completely uninformed answer is okay, I feel like for the most part the peace parts could have easily been set in any European country with an aristocracy at the time and not really change THAT much, but seeing as half of the story is about war, I guess that part would be really different if it wasn't about Russia.
3) How about Andrey and Natasha's nupitals? Will they ever get married and do you think it will work out?
Although I still dislike Andrei, I did end up warming to him slightly this week if only because of his new association with the Rostovs and Natasha, who I think I might like, although I don't really understand her behaviour a lot of the time. So I do kind of hope that it works out, and that they actually have a happy marriage and change each other for the better! But I have to say that I found myself, as I do with all classics that I read, annoyed by the fact that the feelings of lust that they were both clearly having were talked about as being love. I really think that true love is something that takes time to develop, and sure, you can be infatuated by somebody when you first meet them, but until you actually know them properly I'm not sure that you can love love somebody. (On a personal, slightly soppy note, I say this as someone who actually experienced "Love at first sight" as described by most literature with my husband, but although I sort of knew somewhere that he might be "the one" (and I'm not sure that I believe that there is one person for everyone) when we first met, I would still say that it took a good while before I knew that he was the one for me for sure.)
Anyway, I do hope that it works out. It would be nice to see a healthy relationship in this book!! I think the signs are good so far as nobody really seems to have manipulated them into this.
4) Could Rostov have done more to help out his parents with their financial situation?
Yes. He annoys me a LOT. His mother begs him to come home and help sort stuff out and dig them out of the mess that he helped create (although it seems like his dad is just kind of useless with money anyway, so Rostov being an idiot has just made what would have already been bad slightly worse), and then when he comes home he's like, oh actually sorting stuff out is too hard, I'm going to go hunting all of the time and arse around instead.
I am not impressed. Although I'm not really impressed with his parents either, be more sensible with money you fools!!! (I am a weirdo who actually enjoys saving money, and is sensible to the point of being very boring about spending it, so it pains me to see people still making silly decisions about money when they're in financial difficulty. I end up having to remind myself that I am lucky that managing my money sensibly comes naturally to me, and that for some people it is as difficult as it is for me to stop myself from stuffing my face with chocolate a few times a week.)
I am glad though that he decided not to marry for money, although I do get that this would probably have helped his family a lot. But I hope that somebody in his family gets their act together and actually does something about their money situation, even if that is just changing their family's lifestyle so they're living within their means. I guess at least it seems like they are helping out a lot of other people with their stupid money decisions, even if they're not helping themselves.
5) How do you feel about the lengthy hunting descriptions? Did you read the whole thing?
Boring. I read it, but in a way where I was just sort of seeing the words but my mind was somewhere else. This happens sometimes anyway, but normally when it does and I realise I go back and re-read what I have missed, but I didn't bother this time. I still don't really know what happened in those chapters, but oh well!
Overall, I am still enjoying the book and finding it pretty easy to read, but I do feel like this week's chapters weren't the most interesting, especially the last part. Although all of the talk of instruments that I had never heard of led me to listen to some Russian folk music which wasn't at all what I imagined Russian folk music would be like, so that was interesting! I hope that the next section has less lengthy descriptions of hunting and more plot development!
On a side note, I got annoyed at how patronising the men were being about Natasha's horse riding ability (I'm sure they thought they were being complimentary, but shhh, silly men). Did they realise that she was managing to ride as well as they were and doing it all side-saddle, which seems to me the most illogical way to ride a horse ever?! BE MORE IMPRESSED! I never really got why it was women who ended up riding horses this way, as surely it would make more sense for men who have very sensitive parts between their legs. Women's sensitive parts are at least hidden away and protected somewhat! I also never really understood why trousers were seen as a men's thing, when they make SO MUCH MORE SENSE for women.
Ahem, anyway... I am going to start reading the next bit today, so hopefully I will end up finishing on time!!! I do seem to have a fallen into a pattern of being behind every other week, it's irritating me!!!