The selected section for the month April during the War and Peace Read Along were the first two parts of Book II.
I have to admit that I found these two parts much more enjoyable than the parts we read for February and March. As Helen put it in a comment, “I was happy that there was more ‘peace’ than ‘war’ in April’s reading!” While I have accepted that war is an inevitable part of this novel (heh), I still struggle with how conditioned I am to “just look away” during battle scenes in movies, or skimming pages of battle scenes in books. I also find it very difficult to picture what is written about the battle scenes, I simply cannot imagine the layout of the field, however much effort is put into the description of it. While, when reading about houses or cities, I am more comfortable just imagining them even if in my imagination the door is on the other side of the room, etcetera. I wonder what this says about me as a reader?
I still have trouble keeping all the characters straight (I wonder if all of my posts about War and Peace are just going to repeat the same things over and over?) but I am having a little less trouble.
I think this section really showed us the flaws in some of the male characters. Pierre’s marriage is already over! Was he too quick to believe his wife was having an affair? What do you think? And what about that duel? I loved what Amy stated in her post:
Of course the idea of a duel is quite old fashioned and ridiculous and I thought it was amusing no one really thought they’d go through with it and they did and of course it wasn’t glorious–just like war, it was quick, stupid, and someone got hurt.
Such a smart observation! And I think very fitting. I will now be on the lookout for these small parallels.
Rostov. His loss of money. His treatment of Sonya’s love. These scenes were realistic, but quite painful for me to read! I am not sure if I like him very much. He seems quite self-centered at this point? I’d love to see some character growth for him during the upcoming 8 months of reading.
Prince Andrei’s storyline was interesting, though I am not sure what to think of him yet. There is some irony in the fact that he shows up when he was thought to be death, just as his wife is bringing new life into the world and then dies herself. I admit I am fascinated by how he seems to have turned away from war and battle, while his father who, if I remember correctly, was first reluctant about it is now passionately engaged with it? Will we see more of this? I’d like to have more exploration of the diverse reactions to war, the motivations to make certain choices, and the disillusionment.
I wonder about the women in this story though. That is, their characterisation. I feel they are a little.. flat? right now. They seem to be at the sidelines, waiting, getting hurt, mostly drifting along. I’d like one of them to stand up and act for herself (although I guess in a way Pierre’s wife has, but then – I wonder how sympathetically that was portrayed?). Mostly, I’d like Sonya to be treated better by Rostov?
And what about Pierre’s induction to freemasonry? I admit I was fascinated by the induction rituals, though also a bit uncomfortable. I know very little about freemasonry and I know that there are quite a few different interpretations of it in contemporary society, so I admit I kept wondering how realistic the portrayal of this induction was, or if it was Tolstoy’s imagination.. Nevertheless, it raises some interesting questions about faith and trying to introduce and convince others. There are parallels between Pierre’s introduction to these ideas by the traveller and then Pierre trying to convince Andrei, where the one succeeds and the other does not, and we are left to wonder why.. There is also the question whether the freemasons were really trying to help Pierre find a better course in life or whether it was about his money [there is very little attention to the fact that he pays them quite a lot, but it is there in the ceremony, and it does stand out sharply to the reader].
Anyway, parts three and four of Book II are up next for May.
Are you still reading along? Are you enjoying it? Who or what do you like best of all up to now?
You can find the Mr. Linky to link to your own thoughts at Amy’s blog.