War and Peace Newbies Read-Along | Week Three

Welcome one, welcome all, to the third of my weekly progress reports  for War and Peace. I am happy to report that I have officially now read further than I did on my previous attempt to tackle this mammoth of a book – if nothing else, that’s progress, and we can call it a success even if I don’t read a word more. I mean, obviously I’d prefer it if I did read significantly more words and finish the entirety of the book but still…

You may have seen my previous weekly post summarising my week 2 progress, if not please do pop on over to it to see how it went. And for those who have no idea what I’m going on about at all, you may want to head on over to the blog of the War and Peace Newbies Read-along host Laura from Reading In Bed.

Every week I’m doing a short progress post or wrap-up of my thoughts so far on the book, all very low key, probably in the form of bullet points, and likely not always coherent. So don’t expect eloquence or a comprehensive guide to the novel is what I’m trying to say – at best, my approach is scatter-gun and what catches my eye probably isn’t the most important detail in the text. Expectations lowered accordingly? Ok, then let’s see how Week 3 went, which covered Part I, Volume III of War and Peace…

  • If you want an added level of difficult to your already difficult read, try reading on a Monday morning train ride into work when you’ve not had any coffee yet, feel like crap because periods, it’s hot and you’re uncomfortable, and then three chattering Scouse women sit down next to you and talk at a volume best described as “loud enough for the entire train to hear them”.
  • It’s Tuesday morning. I opened my book happily on the train – the SAME GROUP of loud women got on again in the carriage I was in. I swear this is a conspiracy so that I can NEVER concentrate on War and Peace. How dare people do such heinous things as talk to each other on public transport, ughhhhh.

ughrolleye

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War and Peace Newbies Read-Along | Week Two

Welcome one, welcome all, to the second of my weekly progress reports proper for War and Peace. You may have seen my first post summing up how my first week reading Tolstoy’s tome went but, for those unaware, I’m taking part in the War and Peace Newbies Read-along, as hosted by Laura from Reading In Bed.

Every week I will be doing a short progress wrap-up/my thoughts so far on the book, very low key, probably in the form of bullet points, and likely not always coherent. So don’t expect eloquence is what I’m trying to say. Expectations lowered accordingly? Ok, then let’s see how Week 2 went, which covered Part I, Volume II of War and Peace…

(spoiler alert: I put gifs in this post to try to disguise the lack of content)

  • It’s Monday, it’s the second Monday of Wimbledon, I have a day off and frankly I don’t expect to do much more than sit and watch ridiculously fit people hit tennis balls at each other. And maybe bake a cake. Because my life is just that exciting. War and Peace, you say? What War and Peace? (Spoiler alert: I read none of War and Peace on Monday.)
  • Not entirely sure how I feel about the representation of Denisov’s lisp – it feels like it’s going to turn into cheap comedy??
  • I still don’t really understand what’s going on during the war. It just seems to be a lot of miscommunication or flat-out lack of communication… and people looking stupid because they didn’t set fire to a bridge or something and SO MUCH PETTY BUREAUCRACY and… I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S HAPPENING I’M JUST READING WORDS BUT THE WORDS DON’T MAKE SENSE.

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War and Peace Newbies Read-Along | Week One

Welcome one, welcome all, to the first of my weekly progress reports proper for War and Peace. You may have seen my first post from last week but this is the real deal, week 1, actual words of War and Peace have been readFor those unaware, I’m taking part in the War and Peace Newbies Read-along, as hosted by Laura from Reading In Bed, and I will be making my way downtown through this chunker of a book over the next couple of months and, this time, I hope I will succeed in making it through to the bitter end (or at least past around page 200 where I gave up last time).

Every week I will be doing a short progress wrap-up/my thoughts so far on the book, very low key, probably in the form of bullet points, and likely not always coherent. So don’t expect eloquence is what I’m trying to say. Expectations lowered accordingly? Ok, then let’s begin, with Week 1 which covered Part I, Volume I of War and Peace:

  • I work at a University Press and I buzzed a man into the building for a meeting – he spotted War and Peace on my desk (it casts a very long shadow after all) and said “Oh I approve!”. When I was like “oh thanks yeah I’m trying it again, I failed at page 200 last time, I’m not so great with the war bits because my history knowledge is pretty poor” he responded with “Nah I teach the Russians, it’s fine, just skim it if you need to and go along with it”. So I feel like that was vindication from (presumably) a professor in Russian literature to say I’m allowed to not get what I’m reading but just plow merrily on regardless. Thanks, random professor, I shall!
  • Short chapters – praise the lord for serialisation, guys, this makes getting through War and Peace so much easier. Plus, either the translation I have (the Anthony Briggs one) or the language itself is actually really readable, what a pleasant surprise!
  • Ok so we have a regular rowdy night on the town with the lads (I presume in modern parlance they would refer to themselves as “the lads” or “the boys” tbh). But are they dancing with an actual bear? That’s not a metaphor for anything? An actual bear? (Are you sure it’s not a metaphor?) So is that normal behaviour for drunken Russian aristocrats? I mean, I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade here but wtf guys. Hey, let’s all party like the Russians in that case.
  • I already have to keep Googling characters to get a photo of who played them in a TV/film adaptation so I can keep them straight in my own head – please stop having so many extra/pet/formal names everyone! I came up against this problem with Anna Karenina too (another book I attempted and failed at reading), except it’s much worse with War and Peace because there are a bajillion characters. That’s the true actual factual number, I swear.
  • Vassily and the princess (Katishe? idek anymore) keep scheming to cut Pierre out of the Count’s will and to make sure it isn’t known he’s been declared legitimate by the Emperor and they just want the money from Bezukhov’s death and I bloody love it, it’s so catty and her and Anna Mikhaylovna squabbled over the papers they were tried to secrete and it’s practically slapstick at this point. I love how Anna Mikhaylovna can’t keep her nose out of anything, she might be my fave tbh.
  • I also watched the first episode of the BBC adaptation and I really enjoyed it and it undoubtedly influenced what I think of some characters, and confirmed my suspicions on other things.
  • I’m not a fan of the Kuragins, or of Boris, or of Dolokhov, or the Bolkonskys really.
  • I’m confused because I just find Andrey Bolkonsky kind of…. well, petulant. Like oh your life is sooooo hard, poor little rich boy. Idk, maybe it doesn’t help that I’m never very endeared to the dude who plays him in the BBC adaptation (James Norton) but I kind of assumed given that he plays him, that he’ll end up being the hero somehow. Ugh. Either way, I hope he has some character development because I’m mostly finding him unbearable, and not even in the good kind of way.
  • I am really endeared by all of the Rostovs and Pierre, and I still bloody love Anna Mikhaylovna, even more so after watching Rebecca Front just be amazing in the first episode. But let’s see if that continues once we get into the meat of the story, shall we?

And those, dear readers, were my oh so insightful comments about Volume I, Part I of War and Peace. I never said they’d be particularly intelligent so there we go, week 1 is now over, we move onto week 2 and Volume II, Part II of the book – and until next time…


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War and Peace Newbies Read-Along | It’s Go Time

Since we’re in this for the long haul, I thought I would introduce a weekly feature to my blog in which, every Monday, I will be looking back at how I’ve done in the past week with reading the one, the only, the mammoth that is Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. For those unaware, I’m taking part in Laura from Reading In Bed’s summer read-along of the book which runs from the start of July through until mid-September.

Based on her posting schedule (Mondays too) I have come up with my own little schedule of what page number/chapter I should be up to by the end of any given week and (because I’m obsessive) any given day. That’s right, I busted out a spreadsheet, and even put some formatting on it so that it gives me a nice green box if I’m on track or ahead of schedule.

I’ve even accounted for when I’ll be away in the US for a week and calculated how much I’ll have to read once I’m back in order to still make it through to the end. A tad obsessive, you say? You may have a point. But also I know myself well enough to know that if I don’t keep on top of this every single day I will definitely fall behind very quickly – this way I don’t want to break the chain! (I’m a child when it comes to positive reinforcement.)

So this is what the general schedule roughly looks like for reading my edition of War and Peace and it doesn’t sound too horrendous does it?

As I said, I’ll be away in the US for a week towards the end of the readalong so I’m planning to either catch up the pages I missed in the week following or to make sure I’m enough ahead of the curve in these early weeks so that it doesn’t affect my reading progress. And no, needless to say I will not be taking War and Peace with me – it is a proverbial brick and I don’t think carting it about DC will endear me to it any more. 

Still at it stands I’ll be reading, at most, 24 pages per day which is very doable – whether I can keep up with what’s going on in the story itself is another matter entirely (especially when it gets to the “war bits”) so I’m sure I’ll need the support of my fellow readalong participants, Google, and maybe the BBC miniseries to keep me going.

So folks, until next Monday and my first progress report, let’s do this thing.


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