Growing up, I came to think anything anti-war started with the 1960s. The Baby Boomers, like many generations, though they were the first to think the thoughts they had. They were no different than other generations – although maybe they did amp up the narcissism.
Of course there were other works of anti-war fiction but Book Ten of W&P seems to me the most memorable and the most epic. From the beginning of the book as the Russians seem to fall apart and flee before a purposeless French army finally ending at Borodino with the opposing mindsets of the historic Napoleon and Zutuzov down to the blood soaked fictional field hospital where Dolohov is having his leg amputated.
I could do with less of Tolstoy’s historical essays interrupting the narrative. But I knew they were coming. Maybe at some point I’ll read about why those are in there. They aren’t too distracting and are a bit informative but I’m not reading this to be informed.
This week my two orders of Russian bees came. In the past I’ve ordered Italians but since I’ve had little success with that breed, time to change it up.
In the McEwen Hive, we had some serious interest from some wild bees. They looked to be moving in. They stayed a week or so but by the time the two packages of Russian’s showed up they were gone. So in when the Russians. And they were absolutely easy to install.
The next day I put another package in at the McKee Hive and had the same easy. I’m still hoping to keep some for Hooper and Koewler Hives. And hoping those installations go just as easy.
One big change I’m doing this year is that I’m feeling the living heck out of these guys. In the past I’ve tried to go full blown hippie dippie natural. Let the bees be. And they’ve all died or absconded. No more of that. I can’t handle the disappointment. These bees or now going to go on full Swedish welfare. Lots of feeding, especially in the spring and then later in the fall. I’m going to make them fat and not want to leave. They are going to go into the winter with as much honey as possible. And as strong as possible.
I’m about 330,000 words into W&P and Tolstoy still has me humming along with his narrative. Book Nine is mostly about Napoleon finally launching into Russian. We all know how this turns out for the French but I don’t know how it will turn out for the characters…and I want to know.
What I’m most impressed by is not only how episodic the story telling is but how deeply thought out it is yet how accessible it is. Again, I’m terribly intimidated by Tolstoy.
One last observation: I love it’s genre-lessness. War and romance. politics and family squabbles. He writes about it all and he writes it all so truthfully. Incredible.
Natasha is sweet but you can’t leave a woman in her prime on the shelf for a year like Andy does. Sooner or later hormones and biology are just going to do what they do. They’re explosive enough but when you add Moscow nightlife and then Anatole to the mixture. Pow!
So you have the downfall, in the eyes of 1812 Moscow culture of a nice girl who was treated poorly by a grumpy old count, his too-obedient son and a rich playboy. Not to mention her own dad who didn’t prep her for reality.
But wait, near the end of the book Pierre seems to be nice…he could make her happy…if it weren’t for that nasty yet beautiful Ellen. What shall happen? What shall happen?
This is a brilliant guide, btw: https://medium.com/@BrianEDenton/a-year-of-war-and-peace-cc66540d9619