I am almost towards the end of this saga and I don’t know how I feel about that the fact this book is going to end soon. For more than a month, this book has been a part of my life and I know this is going to give me a big book hangover once it is over.
Book 3 in War and Peace follows the Napoleonic War of 1812 and the burning of Moscow. And Book 4 follows what happened after the conquest of Moscow, the retreat of the French army, and the resettlement of Moscow.
These two parts cover almost 50% of the book, so a lot has happened in these two sections. Many major characters have died, some in the course of the war, some due to injury, and some following the natural course of events. Even though all of them were painful and how much Tolstoy has made us attached to each character, a lot of them were expected too, given this book is based on war.
It has been mentioned in the introduction of the book and I also observed that Tolstoy was not very happy with the way historian has written the history of those times. So, Tolstoy has taken it upon himself to tell the readers how the events actually transpired. That’s the reason there were long philosophical chapters on the topic of determinism and how you can’t really affect change without being a cause for something else. Since I enjoy reading philosophy, I loved reading all those chapters and marked a lot of annotations.
Something I didn’t enjoy in these two parts was the long and detailed descriptions of military formations and war strategies. I love reading history, but I love reading about the people aspect of things, understanding the socio-economic conditions, the culture, day-to-day life, and the impact of important historical events on people’s life. So, whenever there was too much detailed description of the military and political strategies, it became a little dragged for me.
What I loved most in these two books is how cleverly Tolstoy represented and shown the thoughts and life of everyone who is possibly impacted by the war, whether it is from the point of view of emperors, commanders, soldiers, peasants, prisoners, citizens both who stayed and fled, and aristocrats. For some part, he has used historical figures and actual historical events to represent and for the other, he has beautifully interwoven his fictional characters to show us the part which can’t be captured simply through historical narratives.
War and Peace have shown one of the most beautiful character arcs. How the characters were introduced in the beginning and how much they have grown by the end is just beautiful and inspiring.
I loved Prince Andrei, but my favorite has to be Pierre. The journey he has gone through to become the person he is towards the end has really touched my heart. The way he tried to find his meaning and purpose in life through various instruments and when he finally got that insight was quite humbling to me.
I loved the journey and growth of Natasha too. It seems like that from a girl she finally became a woman towards the end.
Though Book 4 has concluded on the war, it hasn’t concluded on the life of all the characters in the book. I think it will be covered in the Epilogues. I am really intrigued to see how Tolstoy finishes this saga.