La guerre et la paix (French language, 2010, Éditions Points) 4 stars

"War and Peace centers broadly on Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812 and follows three …

An epic classic

5 stars

For many years, I have been working through a rather long list of literary classics in chronological order of publication. I have reached the late 1800s, and it just so happened that the start of 2021 coincided with La Guerre et la Paix, or War and Peace (1869) by Leo Tolstoy. Looking back, it seems like a completely unreasonable project for me to start the year with such a dense classic. This book spans more than 1600 pages and features more than 500 characters. Lockdown life demanded ambitious personal goal-setting, and so I did what I could to stay the course.

Every day, I opened my beautiful green paper edition of this novel and read a few short chapters. War and Peace is the historical and philosophical novel by excellence. It narrates the invasion of Russia by France, and alternates between scenes of military conflict and high society. The complex web of characters is made accessible by the serial format - very short chapters allow for a rapid pace reading of this long-winded novel.

It took me 4 months to read War and Peace - I started on January 15 and finished, with a great sigh of relief, on April 19. It was a ridiculously long and epic adventure. Of course, it was worth it! Like many Russian novels, War and Peace lends itself extraordinary well to the colder months - do read it in the winter.