Martha's Reviews > War and Peace

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
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Dec 19, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: own-books, my-favorites
Read from March 24, 2012 to February 02, 2013

THE END. Oh, no, I never want it to end. I want it to go on forever!

Ok, so here goes. I am going to attempt a review of War and Peace in my simpleton language. But, I am so adamant about the greatness of this book that I want everyone to read it before finishing life.

"HURRAH", I finally finished War and Peace (for the second time), but THIS time I really read it and thoroughly enjoyed every word. I think when I read it at 25 it was the “challenge” aspect and didn’t really appreciate all the nuances, philosophies of Tolstoy, etc. because I was too young. At my age now, death is more prominent on my mind, and I appreciate his philosophizing much more.

Tolstoy’s writing is so easy to follow. His words just flow from story to story and bring you in close to each person and each family. I felt such warm feelings for Nicholas, Princess Mary, Natasha, Andrew and of course Pierre. My war hero was General Kutuzov. Kutuzov, depicted by Tolstoy, is a man who “adapts to the flow of events and thinks on his feet”. From Tolstoy’s descriptions of Kutuzov, I saw this wise, fatherly image in front of me, a thoughtful and intelligent man.

Ah, the war scenes – what emotions Tolstoy brings out in you at each battle. You are right there on the ground looking up at the brilliant blue sky (his landscape descriptions are superb) and you feel the emotions and fear from each scene. The blood, the cold, the fog, the hoar frost on the ground is so clear in your mind. He is a genius.

Tolstoy brings religion into many aspects of this tome, but in a way to make you think, not to convert. He gives you bits of what everyone feels and ponders about God and it works your mind. Yes, that is exactly what this book did for me. It made my mind work; really contemplate life. I was left with such good feelings that it made an impact on my philosophy of life.

Tolstoy used many analogies throughout that were excellent. One analogy towards the end of the book was about a soldier and how this man represented the cog in the wheel. You are left with immense respect for the soldier. Tolstoy’s writing is very persuasive. He persuaded me to admire Kutuzov, to understand war in general and to rethink the philosophy of life.

The only reason it took me so long to read this book is because of the normal interruptions of life. It is such an easy read most people should finish it within a few months easily. I’ve heard some say following the families is difficult. The families are listed at the beginning of the book and I referenced them as a new one was introduced, and it wasn’t bad at all. And, believe me, after getting to know each and every one of the characters, you will become attached and never forget them.

War and Peace is number one on my list as the best book ever written, and will never leave that position. I recommend this to EVERYONE!


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Quotes Martha Liked

Leo Tolstoy
“A Frenchman's self-assurance stems from his belief that he is mentally and physically irresistibly fascinating to both men and women. An Englishman's self-assurance is founded on his being a citizen of the best organized state in the world and on the fact that, as an Englishman, he always knows what to do, and that whatever he does as an Englishman is unquestionably correct. An Italian is self-assured because he is excitable and easily forgets. A Russian is self-assured simply because he knows nothing and does not want to know anything, since he does not believe in the possibility of knowing anything fully.”
Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

Reading Progress

03/28/2012 page 6
04/12/2012 page 97
6.0% "I'm lovin' this! It's weird that I have forgotten so much of this book. It's definitely like reading a brand new novel."
05/14/2012 page 240
15.0% "Well, up to this point I have changed my mind about Prince Andrew. Didn't like him much at first, but am feeling much respect for him now (Book 1, Chapter 20)."
07/08/2012 page 500
31.0% "Up to this point, I cannot say enough about this book! It is absolutely scrumpdillyicious. I am hanging on every word! At this point, Pierre & Prince Andrew are debating the meaning of life and the two different views are so enlightening. I LOVE this book!!"
07/23/2012 page 537
33.0% "1 volume down, 2 to go!"
08/18/2012 page 670
41.0% "When Natasha and "Uncle" get together with his music and her dancing -- makes you appreciate the simple things in life. Loved it!"
09/10/2012 page 737
45.0% "What I finally realize is: for every lull, soon thereafter is a climactic scene. Can't get enough of this!!"
09/22/2012 page 787
48.0% "Best book ever! When I finish, I'll put it down for a week & pick it up again for a re-read!"
01/14/2013 page 1320
81.0% "Love this regarding Napoleon by Tolstoy- "But we, thank God, have no need to recognize his genius in order to hide our shame. We have paid for the right to look at the matter plainly and simply, and we will not abandon that right.""
01/21/2013 page 1390
86.0% "Wow, just came to another sad part. I knew something would probably be coming, but it still came as a shock! Very sad." 2 comments
04/21/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-25 of 25) (25 new)

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s.penkevich I know what you mean! I missed Pierre when I finished, it was like being stranded from a close friend.

Nilesh Kashyap When you said that the 6 pages aren't even registering as a percentage then I was laughing but earlier I was appreciating your courage of starting this book. And all the best for remaining 1386 pages.

Martha Thank you. I have a feeling it's going to take me awhile!

Nilesh Kashyap Hey Martha, how is it going? I'm curious about this, from your review and updates it seems that you have already read it once.

Martha Nilesh, how are you? Yes, I read this umpteen years ago (about 25 years old), and thought it would all come back to me -- uh, nooo! This is like a brand new novel, and I agree with you, nothing but 5 stars for a rating. I don't know how much of a review I'll put out there -- yours will probably be the ultimate and I'll just write "see Nilesh's review" for my take. Are you still thinking about Moby Dick?

Nilesh Kashyap What? You are expecting a review from me, that too of W&P! I will lose my sanity in writing it. Leave aside 'ultimate' review, I may just write few lines.
I was planning to start Moby Dick this month, but suddenly a lot of work have dropped onto me, i'm just hoping to somehow finish W&P in this month.

Martha Good luck with work! I can relate, I'm pretty bogged down too!

Nilesh Kashyap I finished it, when will you do it! Which part are you reading now?

Martha Yes, I have seen your posts. Congratulations!! That is a great feeling! And, that part I do remember, the "hurrah-I-finished" feeling. Oh, what a smarty pants I felt like too! Ha Ha Ha

I am on page 400 of my books, just after the battle of Austerlitz, about March 1806.

I read the Introduction of War and Peace first, and some stuff was given away. I am going to remind myself to NEVER read the Intro to any book again. I kind of remember who is going to die (& he almost did twice, but not yet). But, Prince Andrew was very sick/injured at the end of this Austerlitz battle-- and it states he has passed (I don't think so), partly because of the Intro, and partly the way it is stated, like, "oh by the way, Andrew is dead". Huh? That wasn't much of a send-off for Andrew. Anyway, I really like Andrew, don't ask me why. He starts off as a crochety, no-good-husband type, but you can't help but develop respect for him during the battles.

Anyway, sorry, got off on a tangent. I am at the part where there is a fete for Prince Bagration, and the big news is about Dolokhov sleeping with Helen on the side. Pierre is at the dinner table across from Dolokhov, Rostov, and Denisov, and Dolokhov is actually taunting Pierre about the sleeping thing. Pierre starts to yell, and I can't wait to pick up and read what actually happens here.

Seriously, I think I will get through this book in okay time because it is so easy to read (again, so far)I can hardly put it down.

Have you gotten choked up on some parts? I got choked up when Andrew was leaving the house and he and his father were saying their good-byes. That really got to me.

I do like talking about this book with someone who has freshly read it, so if you don't mind me sending you a note now and then and see if you remember certain parts?

Wow, now that was an earful!

Nilesh Kashyap Yeah, that was an earful. I certainly remember many things from book but maybe not all. But how can I forget what happens after that dinner, that is one of the most interesting scenes in the story. Beware! Pierre is dangerous :-D
Btw about that spoiler thing, how can one post spoiler of W&P, you yourself have read it but you don't remember story, do you! So keep posting interesting things to get others to read this book.
I also had problem like yours with introduction, in my case before every chapter started there was brief description what happens in chapter, that ruined a lot of moments. And yeah I choked up at few scenes, especially when important characted died, but it had other reason behind it.

Nilesh Kashyap Go Martha!

message 12: by Kim (new)

Kim I'm inspired by your review. One day soon I will tackle this too.

Martha Thank you, Kim. I promise you won't regret the time spent on it!

Helen Martha, you've inspired me to re-read it too. I was 26 when I first read it - over 30 years ago! Will definitely take it off my shelves, dust it off and enjoy it all over again.

Whilst I don't remember much about the book (apart from the fact that I took part I on holiday to Italy with me, finished it within a week and spent the rest of my time pining for part II left at home), I don't think I found the characters confusing in the least. It was not, contrary to popular belief, a hard read.

Martha Helen - So you read it about the same time I first read it! The thing that really baffles me is how I did not remember anything about the story except some of the names. I hope that is not an early sign of my brain going down! I have to say though, I think in a year or two I wouldn't mind reading it again! But, I hope you do pick it up again, and I could watch your progress & comments!

Nilesh Kashyap The end? Oh no! I was hoping that you would throw a lavish party in march for W&P reading anniversary ;)

Nilesh Kashyap Well, congratulations on finishing this epic. And thanks for this lovely review. One thing I know and is also evident from your review is that everything about this book is admirable and lovable. But at some point, its about what we relate to most, for you maybe it was philosophy ->religion ->God, maybe not. While for me it was simply Pierre that stood out from everyother thing. His impractical dream ->his being naïve ->his search for unexisting ultimate truth. As you've mentioned, it's the age, which decides how we perceive this book. Maybe everyone connects with Pierre, but for it was the only thing, at some point I had no interest in anything else.
Your continuous reference to philosophy, can I recommend a book?

Martha Nilesh wrote: "Well, congratulations on finishing this epic. And thanks for this lovely review. One thing I know and is also evident from your review is that everything about this book is admirable and lovable. B..."

Yes, I remember when I wrote on your thread that I was only on page 6 and it didn't even register-- do you remember? Wow, that seems like a long time ago -- oh, almost a year! If I had just sat down and read it, I probably would have finished much sooner, but I can see attention disorder written all over me. I'd start to read, then, I'd grab my phone -- gotta see what everyone's doing on goodreads -- pick up the book -- oh, gotta see what everyone's doing on goodreads. JUST SIT DOWN AND READ THE BOOK--WILL YA? You are so right, it is what we relate to most. There was a part where Natasha goes on a simple outing, but while there, she has a wonderful time and the feeling she describes afterward was priceless to me. To many people it may seem insignificant, but I could relate to that feeling perfectly. These spots were my favorites of the book. So, subtle, so simple, but what life is really about -- small pieces of happiness that we will always remember. Aaahhhh. And, yes please I'd like to hear your recommendation regarding philosophical thoughts. I am picking up Moby Dick again and tackling that next.

message 19: by Mauro (last edited Feb 08, 2013 04:00AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mauro Congrats! Haven't been around for a while but it's good news seeing you finished and having enjoyed it so much.
Don't miss Anna Karenina!!

And you'd like Life And Fate, but unfortunately the first part is not translated to english: Por una causa justa

Nilesh Kashyap Wow, we have come a long way from that 6 page update of yours. And yeah, GR is a major distraction, especially I feel like posting update every now and then while reading. And once I open the site, it eats up most of the reading time. This is like place for readers so that we can talk about reading and read less. I read like 5 novels in november, when I was not using internet.
And your comment- 'what life is really about -- small pieces of happiness that we will always remember' makes me think of The God of Small Things. Maybe you should read this, something contemporary, all you have been reading are classics. Though nothing can beat classics.

Martha Mauro wrote: "Congrats! Haven't been around for a while but it's good news seeing you finished and having enjoyed it so much.
Don't miss Anna Karenina!!

And you'd like Life And Fate, but unfortunately the first..."

Mauro! Can you believe it? Now, all I have to finish is Moby Dick and I'll feel "caught up". Still love Moby Dick, it's just that I need peace & quiet to read it & that is scarce now-a-days. Plus, I am having too much fun here on Goodreads. Yes, I want to read Anna in the near future and Rebecca!! Ahh, too many books, too little ... But isn't it great to have books to look forward to? I love that! I'll look up Life and Fate-- see what I can read. Too bad I didn't take Spanish more seriously in school! There's probably a lot I am missing out there! :)

Martha Nilesh wrote: "Wow, we have come a long way from that 6 page update of yours. And yeah, GR is a major distraction, especially I feel like posting update every now and then while reading. And once I open the site,..."

Yeah, me and contemporary, hum. I did read The Glass Castle, did you see that? My boss recommended it. It was very interesting, especially because it was real. But I will definitely put down The God of Small Things to read -- it sounds good just from the title!!

Nilesh Kashyap God of small things is semi or maybe fictionalized auto-biography, and kind of dark and depressing, But still you need to give this a chance.

message 24: by Paul (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Curcione Awesome review. Thanks.

Martha Paul, Thank you!! I just saw your post (almost 5 months later -Arghh)!

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