Here are my belated week one thoughts. I promise I did finish the pages by Sunday!
1) What pre-existing ideas did you have about War & Peace?
I thought War and Peace would be rather profound and full of challenging ideas. I also thought I would be confused with all the characters. Until I signed up for this read-a-long I didn’t realise military strategy plays such a big part in the novel and this did unnerve me a bit I will admit.
2) On that note, is it as bad as you’d expected? :P
Much to my delight I have discovered it is just a story, albeit a long one. There are lots of characters but I don’t find them all as confusing as I feared. Just don’t ask me to list their names for you… If I can’t remember who each character is, the story puts it all into context and I sort of remember.
3) What strategies are you employing?
I am reading it on my Kindle but have also borrowed a paperback version from my library as I find it easier to flick through pages when I need to check something. There’s a simple character list at the back of the paperback but I think I might print a more detailed copy of the characters as Maggie at Macarons and Paperback has done.
Similarly to Charlotte at Lit Addict Brit I plan to begin each week’s reading on a Sunday and then hope I finish in time… I plan to have other books on the go too for variety.
4) How are you getting along with your translation?
I figured that if I was going to seriously try and read to the end of the book I needed a good translation so I read a few reviews and bought the Penguin (Anthony Briggs) version on my Kindle rather than carry a tome around. It is very readable but I can’t really compare it to other versions.
5) Most and least favourite characters?
At this point I don’t think any of the characters are necessarily complex; what you see is what you get.
I like Pierre the most. Out of the multitude of characters I met in Part I he is the only one who seems to have some depth and intrigue in his character. Interestingly According to Jen at I Spiral Down Tolstoy supposedly based Pierre on himself! I also like cantankerous father of Prince Andrei for a bit of light relief.
I found Anna Mikhaylovna’s character annoying as she imposed herself on everyone for assistance. I could hear the other characters groan as she approached. Get some self respect! Maria’s son Boris probably needs a slap for being insipid and naive when it comes to his mother’s actions.
6) How do you feel about the way women are treated in the book
The female characters are all rather stereotypical and indicate that women in Russian society at this time had to be adorable, demure and merriment personified or risk being a harridan. I know I should be outraged at this but I see it as a snapshot of a moment in time. Most of the male characters are bland stereotypes too.
My final verdict this week? I am enjoying this novel!