After Book One’s endless round of cocktail parties and personal politics and kisses in alcoves and fights over wills. I was beginning to wonder where the ‘war’ in the title came into this novel but then Book Two ended up being twenty chapters of nothing but war.
And Tolstoy gives us the full gamut from buck privates to Emperors. From field tactics to international relations. Wow. The characters we met at parties in Petersburg and Moscow in Book One are now throw on the fields of battle in Austria where they are moved around to witness history and as their stories unfold we get to see it also.
And the amazing thing is that Tolstoy can keep this up over twenty chapters. It’s quite amazing. And exhausting to read.
One thing I do like about Tolstoy that I thought I might not is his minor characters. I’d recently watched a video essay on the Cohen Brother’s minor characters. Tolstoy does much the same thing. They are wonderful, unforgettable editions that added pepper to the story. They are little distractions that play off of the main characters, maybe even elaborate on them.
This is a brilliant guide, btw: https://medium.com/@BrianEDenton/a-year-of-war-and-peace-cc66540d9619