When it came to the rather daunting task of reading Tolstoy’s War & Peace – number 20 in the BBC’s Big Read – I was very relieved that two of my favourite fellow bookworms, Helen (you can read here blog here) and Chloe offered to read along with me. At just short of 1500 pages it’s one of the longest and arguably most epic entries.
I read a copy that my granny had given my mum in 1972, and found a shopping list that had been used as a makeshift bookmark 400 pages in. That it had been passed through two generations of readers added extra poignance to my reading of the Russian classic; I was only four when my granny passed away but often think I inherited my great love of reading from her.
Set during the time of the Napoleonic wars and the French invasion of Russia, War and Peace follows the lives of the Rostovs and the Bolkonskys, of Pierre, Natasha, and Andrei whose fates all intertwine with the historic events taking place simultaneously. Seamlessly moving from glamorous Russian soirees to blood-drenched battles, War and Peace is a mammoth tale like no other that expertly explores themes of fate and destiny and gives its readers a valuable insight into an era of time gone by.
Almost 150 years after its first publication, that War and Peace was voted as one of the nations best-loved books is evidence of Tolstoy’s storytelling prowess and I have little doubt it will continue to be treasured by book-lovers all over the world for many more years to come.