Top positive review
58 people found this helpful
on 9 February 2008
For me, the title 'War and Peace' was synonomous with anything extremely long - as in 'there's a strict word limit on the essay, I don't want War and Peace.' I'd always imagined therefore that the novel was the ultimate in being wordy, boring and hard to read.
Nothing could be further from the truth. I started the novel reluctantly (as part of a new year's resolution to read all of the BBC's top 100 Big Read books), wondering how I was going to plough through it all. I finished wishing it was even longer! It's like reading a good soap opera set in 19th century Russia.
If you like reading about people, you will enjoy it. It's very easy to read - whether this is due to the original writing or this translation or both I couldn't say - and with a rich cast of wonderful characters. Its brilliance lies in its combination of small scale family and domestic matters with large scale descriptions of wars and politics. There can't be many books that do this so successfully, moving seamlessly between the two.
There are some sections which are a bit 'heavier' and more intellectual, for example the last couple of chapters which expand on some of Tolstoy's theories about wars and life in general, but these are still readable and are a very small portion of the book.
I think that everyone should at least try reading this - most people will be as surprised as I was about how much they enjoy it. It's hard to describe just what it is that's so great about the story, so I think readers need to find out for themselves. Perhaps it's partly due to the great length - it gives you time to really immerse yourself in the world and its characters. I have read it twice now, and will read it again (very unusual for me), and in between readings it has stuck in my mind more clearly than many other stories. I urge readers to give it a try!