I’m about 20% into War and Peace (not that I’m counting). I’ve struggled with the recent chapters, which largely take place during battles between the French and the Russians. What I do enjoy about Tolstoy’s battle scenes is his focus on the chaos of battle, not just the heroics. Troops that are in the wrong places, messages that don’t get delivered, bridges that are overrun with civilians, and generals that don’t do their jobs and lie about it later. Smoke obscuring who and where and what is happening, which my husband assures me is exactly how gun battle would be at that time.
Tolstoy also writes about the soldiers’ and officers’ anticipation of battle. They’re frustrated by all the moving and waiting, and when battle comes, Tolstoy unexpectedly describes his characters as “joyous” and “buoyant”. Prince Andrei experiences “great happiness” as he marches into battle. It will be interesting to read how this attitude changes during the course of the war. Tolstoy fought in the Russian army, so I’ll give him credit for knowing what he’s talking about.
Have you ever noticed that when you read two books at the same time, you come across interesting parallels? George RR Martin in Clash of Kings describes the “high” of battle from Tyrion’s perspective. I had initially ascribed Tolstoy’s description of the men’s elation going into battle as a comment on the ignorance of untested soldiers, but Martin describes it more like the rush of being in the middle of the fight.
Last week I spent some time updating my TBR list and downloaded a bunch of new samples to my Kindle. I have a hundred ideas of what to read and little time to get to all of them. Here are the samples I downloaded this week:
- Molokai by Alan Brennert (historical novel about turn of the century Hawaii)
- The Last Werewolf (great review in the New York Times yesterday)
- The Bird Sisters (suggestion from Literary Giveaway)
- Before I Go to Sleep (suggestion from Literary Giveaway)
- The Yellow House by Patricia Falvey (historical fiction about Ireland)
- The Report by Jessica Francis Kane (historical WWII fiction)
And from authors I already know I like:
- The World According to Bertie by Alexander McCall Smith
- When the Killing’s Done by TC Boyle
- Pump Six by Paolo Bacigalupi
- Ghostwritten by David Mitchell
- The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim by Jonathan Coe
I know I won’t get to all these, but that’s what’s fun about sampling. Any recommendations from this list?
I’m not a big fan of Mondays but here we are, so hope you all have a good week.