Wednesday, 10 July 2013

'War and Peace' - Book Review

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0e/Napoleon4.jpg


What is War and Peace about?

War and Peace is a historical novel written by Leo Tolstoy. It loosely describes the events of the Napoleonic Wars and life during that period. I use the term 'loosely' because War and Peace is a work of fiction and the contents may not be entirely historically accurate, although based on true events.

Where is War and Peace set?

Most of the action and drama in War and Peace is set in Russia, near either Moscow or St. Petersburg. The cities of Smolensk and Vilna also appear in the novel. The scenery is, however, constantly changing throughout the book and this is one of its best features. A well-flowing plot set against a dynamic and varied backdrop helps to keep the story alive, drawing the reader in.

Who is War and Peace about?

War and Peace is a novel about the lives and experiences of member of the Russian aristocracy during the Napoleonic Wars. Several primary characters are featured throughout the novel, and as the story unfolds we learn more about their thoughts, feelings and spirituality. Non-Russian and non-aristocratic characters also feature in War and Peace. Some characters are historical or based on real people, while others are fictional creations of Tolstoy's. But you can expect each of the characters in War and Peace to be well constructed and involving.

Who are the main characters in War and Peace?

-Pierre or Count Pyotr Bezukhov.
-Count Nikolai Rostov.
-Natasha or Countess Natalia Rostova.
-Prince Andrei Bolkonsky.
(To name a few, the complete list is much longer)

What Happens in War and Peace?

Part of the story focuses on the social interactions of the Russian aristocracy, while the other part covers their military campaigns and engagements with Napoleon's forces. As someone who approached War and Peace hoping for it to be a bit heavier on the war and less so on peace, let me tell you that Tolstoy has an impressive ability to engage with the reader and make peace just as exciting as war.

Which battles are in War and Peace?

-Battle of Austerlitz.
-Bombardment of Smolensk.
-Battle of Borodino.
-Numerous small skirmishes or minor actions.
-Other large battles mentioned in the narrative.

Why is War and Peace so good?

What makes War and Peace a classic is the way Tolstoy plays with the readers emotions and expectations. You become engrossed in a particular event or the experiences of a principal character, and then Tolstoy will turn everything on its head. The event will come to an inconclusive end, your character may be changed in some way or even removed from the story. And during this process Tolstoy leaves the narrative unbroken and the realism untouched. You continue to believe in the events and characters described because they are born out of real history and a well-considered creative process.

Should you read War and Peace?

The short answer is yes. War and Peace is one of those books which you should read before you die, and preferably sooner rather than later! Not only is it a great read but it might change the way you think about things. An added bonus is, it looks great on your bookshelf and people will think you're clever when they see you reading it! So that's enough from me, go find a copy or download it electronically and the book will speak for itself.

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Joe Malpas