Saturday, 13 February 2016

Conquering My Everest - War And Peace

Before I get into the review or any of the details of my reading experience etc I would just like thank every single person who got behind me while I have been reading War and Peace. The people who have liked my tweeted updates or my daily updates on Goodreads. The people who have sent me encouraging messages and memes. And especially to my buddy reader who without her I would never ever have gotten through this book! So thank you F, you're amazing!!!

I started reading War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy on the Readathon Day 2015 which was held on the 24th of January 2015. The readathon was 4 hours long and I was really proud of myself as I managed to read 153 pages and though it was excruciatingly wordy, I was getting through it. As an example of the wordy-ness, this is a sentence from the top of page 6 "As she named the Empress, Anna Pavlovna's face suddenly assumed an expression of profound and sincere devotion and respect, tinged with melancholy, and this happened whenever she mentioned her exalted patroness" - I feel this could have been done in a much more succinct way and in a way that didn't make Anna's face sound like it was performing a drama.

So we move onto April and I finally get around to picking the book up to continue reading it and I manage three pages before I fall fully asleep sat on the sofa.  tried on and off until September and I kept managing the same three pages before falling asleep, whether I was tired or not. In October I had some success and I finally read 26 pages all in one go and then on another day another six, but I just couldn't do it any more. It was so painful to force myself to read it and to keep myself awake, especially as there are so many books that I want to read. So I made the decision that I was going to DNF (did not finish) my first ever book! I made my intention known on Goodreads and then from nowhere one of my Iggle (IGGPPC member) friends said that she had wanted to read War and Pace too and that she would get a copy and catch up with me and we would read it together! I jumped at this as I was upset that I was leaving a book unfinished and had let it beat me, so a few days later we started reading 10 pages a day until new year and then we upped it to 20 pages a day.

Having someone else reading this with me gave me the motivation I needed to get through this tome. It didn't seem as much effort to get through the pages and with deciding to read a set amount of pages a day, it really felt like I was making progress. I am eternally grateful to F for helping me out with this and I look forward to all out future buddy reads to get through books we want to read, because we should read.

Onto the review. I am being very, very generous giving this two stars instead of one. The only reason that I am doing this is that during the times of "peace" there were bits of scandal and gossip that kept me almost interested. There is a whole host of characters that come and go so often that you forget who they are as a lot of them have very similar names. Some characters disappear for a long time, only to come back and die in nothing more than a sentence. One character has more lives than a cat and is pronounced dead so many times, you just don't care any more. There was character that I did like and I was pleased that he got his happy ending that he deserved.

The sections which were from Napoleans point of view, to me felt like they were added as an after thought or were written at a different time by a different person as they read so different to the rest of the story, I discovered through F that War and Peace was originally released as a serial so it is actually possible that these parts were added as an after thought. Towards the end of the book, Tolstoy seems to forget he is telling a story and there is more than one chapter which are just his opinions on war and history. It's very jarring getting to these parts when the chapter before and after are jut continuations of the story as if the middle bit never happened.

As I've said at the start, I would not have got through this book without the support of my buddy reader and I really respect people who can do it alone (and enjoy it!) I'm proud we got through it and I'm certainly glad that I can honestly say that yes I have read War and Peace.

Have you ever read War and Peace? What was your reading experience and did you enjoy it?

I started reading this book on the 24th of January 2015 and finished it on the 10th of February 2016.
I gave this book 2 stars on Goodreads


  1. Loved reading this! Your review, not the book. Don't think I'll be bothering with that!!!

  2. I love the book and I'm a mum, too.

  3. I love the book and I'm a mum, too.

  4. At first glance, I thought you did much better than me. I saw you started in January and posted your review in February, before realizing it was 2015-2016. No worries though my first read of Don Quixote took me about that long. Anyway, I read it in a bit over two months, and really enjoyed it. I do agree, the PEACE parts were better than the WAR. My review:
    Have you tried Anna Karenina. I think it is a MUCH more enjoyable read.

    1. Thank you :) Your review is awesome. Reading it though makes me think I should have read Anna Karenina first to break me into Tolstoy!