War and Peace

August 24, 2014 Renny Book Chat

I’ve spent the summer working my way through a huge tome called “And Ladies of the Club” by Helen Hooven Santmyer and my version has 1433 pages (there are some more recent versions that have a few less pages). I recently likened it to an American version of War and Peace. That off-the-cuff comment made me think about the real War and Peace by Tolstoy (which is far, far better than ‘And Ladies..’). I once spent the summer reading W&P as one of the ‘must reads’ on my list. In the subsequent years I have tried and abandoned other books on my must read list (ie Lord of the Rings and Ulysses) but I loved War and Peace. The characters are compelling, story lines authentic and the writing is of course magnificent. After all this time, it has stayed with me as a challenging but worthwhile read. I see that there is actually a book out now called “Give War and Peace a Chance” (a nice nod to another great writer – John Lennon) by Andrew Kaufman. I agree. This book is well worth the effort, but I wonder how many of today’s readers will bother. In an age of instant gratification and a time where it seems that to compress written communication into the smallest possible package that can be sent with two thumbs is the norm, I suspect that Tolstoy will find fewer and fewer readers as time goes on. I don’t mind new great works of literature replacing the old in popularity, but will we really see the likes of War and Peace again in these modern times? Do give it a chance. Meet the Rostov family. Celebrate and commiserate with Pierre Bezukhov as his fates move him from innocence to disillusionment. Get to know a little about Russian history. There is so much going for this book, that I hope it continues to make personal ‘must read’ lists for generations to come.


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