War and Peace and I'm happy to report that it has become less complicated and mystifying, and both the French and the explanatory endnotes have thinned out a bit. Although I appreciated it from the beginning, it has become much more enjoyable now that I don't feel like I'm cramming for a history exam.
When a book is this long, I sort of assume it will include lengthy, boring descriptions or other such filler, but not so here. There are some beautiful descriptions to be sure, but also there is a hell of a lot of things happening with the characters. It has become quite a page-turner!
Several characters are young and marriageable which, as you can imagine, leads to a great deal of intrigue. There is Pierre, the illegitimate son of a Count, who was raised in France and then inherited his father's wealth, making him suddenly appealing to the aristocracy. He is rather awkward and lost, trying to find his way in life and looking for something to inspire him. Natasha Rostov is an impassioned young woman who can't decide who she is in love with, but whatever she feels at the moment, she feels strongly. One of my favorite characters is Marya, a devout young woman who is aging out of the marriageable range and living under a domineering father. He is really cruel to her, and she is constantly willing to sacrifice her happiness and martyr herself for the greater good. Eventually something will have to give and I really hope she is able to come into her own as the strong, wise woman she has the potential to be.
There is just so much to discuss in this book! In class we've had extensive conversations about such subjects as dueling and Freemasons. The instructor continues to be fantastic. She is also fascinating in her own right. A poet and a dissident, many of her family members killed by Stalin, she is incredibly knowledgeable and expresses strong opinions about Putin. Sometimes I can't help but think, "To hell with Tolstoy - tell me more about you!"
This experience is all even better because I'm taking the class with two of my friends. As I mentioned, I'm not the only person in my social circle dorky enough to sign up for a War and Peace class. Every week we all go to class and then have dinner together nearby. It's only for eight weeks, but I'm really getting used to it. Only four more classes and 600 pages to go!