Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Book Review : War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy 7*

Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy.

Actually this isn't quite a review, I mean how do you seriously write about this vast novel, epic in many senses of the word, as a physical object War And Peace is a brick of a book, as weighty and solid as the story within, as a novel it is a story of both epic length and depth, even at the very end after the story has closed, Tolstoy can't help himself adding an extra 40 pages of philosophising about the Napoleonic wars and their causes and effects.

As with other writers of this era that I have read, I found that Tolstoy (like Harman Melville with Moby Dick for example) is character and situation as opposed to plot driven, War And Peace ambles on for hundreds of pages at the start of the book in rather Jane Austen style, that is, where character spend an awful lot of time talking and doing things of no great importance to the plot or interest to the reader.

The tone of WaP changed somewhere around 900 pages in, when Napoleon invades Russia and book suddenly gains a single a single narrative flow and becomes much more exciting to read, the final 550 pages flew past, well almost.

1,445 pages of densely written prose set in a tiny font, War And Peace is to reading what the marathon is to the runner, the pages spread out endlessly ahead of you, you get read a good chunk in a day, 80 or 90 pages, and yet the movement of your bookmark is almost imperceptible, there are times when you feel you might never reach the end and only dogged determination and persistence will get you there.

War And Peace isn't a novel I would recommend to everyone, for a start you need a lot of free time just to get through it, I have been reading it off and on for almost seven weeks, and it is really heavy going in parts, I can absolutely understand why so many people start on this huge tome and abandon it. If you really want to read a huge book where massive armies clash and the blood of hundreds of thousands is spilt, hand on heart, I have to tell you that both Tolkein and Erikson write books that are better reads.

1 comment:

  1. you'll probably want a break from Tolstoy for a while - but his 'Resurrection' is very good (much shorter) and worth seeking out!