Writing a review of War and Peace seems somewhat silly - what the hell can I add??? But, while it's still fresh in my mind, here are some general impressions...
I have to confess that while I enjoyed the first half of this book, I was thinking 4 stars and certainly not "greatest novel ever written" but once I got to the third volume, Leo's crazy stew really started to simmer up nicely for me. I still don't think it's the greatest novel ever written but then again, I don't think I could say what novel is.
There are so many characters and plot lines in the book that I felt it to be a bit jarring at times, especially in the first half of the book. Just when I was finally feeling entrenched in a character's path, Leo would take me somewhere else. But he starts to bring it all together in the second half of the book and the six degrees of separation all start becoming clear. And there are some wonderful characters here - Pierre and Natasha probably being the popular favorites. I found myself wanting to smack and hug them both constantly which is pretty much how I feel about most of the people I care about.
In many ways this book felt more 20th century than 19th in the complete lack of romanticization of warfare, his bursting the bubble on the idea of war heros/great men in history and his rants on the subjectivity of history and even the subjectivity of reality. Loved all that stuff!
His long rant at the end of the book seemed a bit out of place and too removed from the rest of the book - more a separate piece of non-fictional work. And it seemed somewhat like he was trying to make sure us readers didn't miss the point of what he was trying to say in the "fiction" part of his book. But I'll forgive him (because I'm so generous... wink wink) since he left me with much to ponder and for me a good book is one that I continue to think about long after finishing it.
And now I think a good follow-up to this would be Valley of the Dolls!