When I finished Book 1, I liked this book a lot but with Book 2 I am in love with it. I dived into this saga without knowing anything about the storyline except that it is one of the best books by Leo Tolstoy. So, as the name suggests I was expecting a lot of war scenes. And when I heard people saying that they are heartbroken by reading this book, I felt that it is because of the horridness of the war. I never imagined that this book will break my heart in peace, in the courts, ballroom dances, and the drawing rooms.
I have tried my best to not make this post too spoilery. But still, there are a lot of hints and suggestions which I can’t avoid. So, if you haven’t yet finished Book 2 and don’t wish to get these suggestions you can skip this and come back to it once you have read it.
In this book, Tolstoy has uncovered layers for a lot of characters and hence I am gonna talk about them only in this post.
I am continuously oscillating between my love for Pierre and Prince Andrei. In the beginning, I was really put off by Pierre, especially by the decisions he took that I considered him really gullible and silly. But towards the end, he again won my heart by being a kind and loving person.
I was absolutely broken by the plight of Prince Andrei for his loss and his hopelessness with life. So, when he found something which uplifted his spirits, I was rooting for him all along. The scene where he projected his feeling on an Oak tree was one of the highlights of this book for me. And even when things started going well for him he still behaved in such a dignified way.
The friendship between Pierre and Prince Andrei warms up my heart every time. There were a lot of philosophical ideas that Tolstoy has delivered to readers through these two characters and I absolutely loved reading those passages.
People might be very quick to reprimand Natasha for her conduct, but my heart goes out for that poor little girl. Yes, she is fickle and wears her heart on sleeves. But how much maturity you can expect from a 17-year-old girl. Yes, she is old enough for the standards of that time, but can we blame her to not fully understand the feelings of love and commitment.
I don’t like Nikolai. Somehow, even though his intentions are right, he always ends up doing the wrong thing. However, towards the end of Book 2, he has shown a little strength of character but as I perceive his character I can’t trust him to stick to it for too long. And Sonya, what can I say about her. How can someone love with so much patience? She is a pure soul and I have a feeling that her heart is gonna break.
I love the Rostov family. I think of all the families in the book theirs is my favorite. I love the bond between each family member, whether it is mother and daughter or brother and sister. But I am equally saddened by the fact that they are looked upon in society because they are poor. I understand that they are also not perfect especially how they react to the relationship between Nikolai and Sonya, but considering other families they are still better than the lot.
There are also a bunch of characters that I absolutely disliked, the self-serving social climbers, and some of them are Boris, Berg, Vera, and Helene who are only concerned with themselves and their well-being whatever is the cost.
Princess Marya is a simple and docile character. And even though you feel pity for her by the unjust and cruel treatment by her own father Old Prince Nikolai, I somehow fail to love her.
Criticism & further reading…
The only complaint I have from this book till now is the somewhat sexist tone of Tolstoy which I found in a lot of places. Some people might defend it by saying that the book is written in such time, but I find this excuse unsatisfactory. There are lots of classics written in that era that portrays the poor state of women without being sexist.
In book 2 there are not many war scenes but as we all know the year 1812 is approaching, which is the year of one of the most important Napoleonic Wars, I am expecting lots of war scenes in Book 3.