When I was growing up, the conventional wisdom was that War and Peace was the sine qua non of difficult books: the scope, the length, OMG the length! Conquering this Everest was The Test of whether you were a Man/Reader.
I have now read it. Thump chest and make Tarzan yell.
Actually, you know chump, big deal. The mountain really wasn't so large after all.
There are love affairs, there is a war, peace eventually returns to
the Shire Russia. Sorry, got confused there for a minute with Lord of the Rings, another 1,000+ page work where there are love affairs, war and an eventual peace. (That's hardly a spoiler by the way. Not unless you've been hiding under a rock and don't know that Napoleon didn't succeed in conquering Russia.) Which is my point: With every half-penny fantasy potboiler these days weighing in at several hundred kilogrammes of war and peace (*cough*Wheel of Time*cough*), how can we still look at a book this size and feel fear? 1,000+ pages? Only? Pshaw! That's nuthin!. Spit out t'baccy chaw.
And yet, the notion still lives on about how HARD War and Peace is. So, if anyone out there still buys into that, is intimidated and deterred by that notion, well, really, don't be (unless, of course, the last thing you read was Green Eggs and Ham).
The thing is, to my surprise, I found it a rollicking good read. There are star-crossed lovers, suicide attempts, heart-rending death bed scenes, and battles aplenty where our heroes get knocked on the head and taken prisoner. Instead of Middle Earth, you get a fantasy-land of wholesome, loving Peasant Russia and you learn how True Self comes from Loving the Russian Soil. Okay, there's also the rather irritating and interminable philosophizing by Tolstoy about History and Its Causes, but you got through the interminable side songs in Lord of Rings didn't you?
In case any of you are thinking that I'm mocking War and Peace by this comparison, please note that it's not intended to be (wholly) facetious. I loved Lord of the Rings. If anything I'm mocking the awe with which we approach "Great Works". So, yeah, if you ever thought of reading War and Peace but were put off by its reputation, don't be. It's actually quite fun.