War & Peace - The wrap-up post
This is going up a bit late because... it is. Sorry!!
I am going to talk a bit about the epilogues at the end of the post in case anybody who hasn't read the book wants to read my overall thoughts.
But before I start answering the survey, I just want to say a huge thank you to Hanna for hosting the whole thing and providing excellent prompts, and to Charlotte for providing equally excellent prompts in the weeks that Hanna was unable to. And I think that all of us who participated deserve a pat on the back for making it to the end. YAY US!
And although this readalong was a bit painful at times (more on this below!), I am also so up for doing another one!! I just need a few months to enjoy reading at my own pace first, hehe.
1. Was War & Peace what you expected or did it surprise you?
I expected a really long book that had bits about war and bits about peace in it, so I guess it was! What I wasn't expecting though was how gossipy it would be, and I also wasn't expecting to kind of hate most of the characters, hehe.
2. What was your favourite part?
Oh, I don't know! I liked any of the parts that were sort of gossipy and full of scandal, they were definitely the most fun to read.
3. Least favourite part?
The epilogues. I didn't think it could get more boring than the hunting trip, but I was wrong!!
4. Have you learned anything from War & Peace? Either Russian history, or in a more abstract, how-to-read-big-books way?
I have learnt that the Russian aristocracy all spoke French most of the time. Also I feel like I have learnt a bit about how wars were fought at that time and about Russian history (the only bit of Russian history that I knew beforehand is all to do with the revolution and then the history up to now, so pretty much everything in the book was new to me!)
I learnt that reading big books is much more fun when you're doing it with a group of other people rather than going it alone! I really wish I had read infinite jest with a group now.
5. Be honest, how close did you come to giving up?
I think the closest I came was the week where I ended up really behind, but I was never THAT close. I idly toyed with the idea of giving up, but I think I would have been really annoyed at myself if I had. But if I had been reading it by myself, I think I probably would have given up the first time it went into a war section.
...Actually having written about the epilogues below, I have to say I came pretty close to giving up during the epilogues. But I would have kicked myself for that afterwards, so I'm glad I didn't. I do wish that I had gone with my other idea to just completely skim read most of it though, haha.
6. How did it feel when you FINALLY finished?
Like I had just wasted too much time reading the epilogues. Urgh. But I was also very happy that I was able to read something else, and I am impressed that I actually finished it! I'm allowed to be impressed with myself, right??
7. What's the first book you're going to pick up without Tolstoy-induced guilt?
The first thing I read after finishing was Ms. Marvel volume 2 (it was excellent!), and I am currently reading Stardust by Neil Gaiman, which I should really have finished by now, but I am not getting much reading done at the moment. I am enjoying it though!
8. Would you recommend this book to a friend? Would you reread it?
Ooh that's tricky. If I had a friend who was considering reading it, then I think I would point out that it was actually way easier to read than I thought it would be and much more fun in parts, but that there were whole sections when I was shouting SHUT UP ALREADY TOLSTOY! in my head... so I'm not sure that would really be a recommendation. I think if someone I knew was already interested in reading it, I wouldn't try to put them off, but I don't think that I would particularly encourage them. And no. I would not reread it. Unless I ended up with wayyyy too much free time on my hands and no money to buy new books (libraries are not so much of an option for me).
But having said that, I did enjoy it way more than I thought I would, and I am really glad that I've read it!
And now, epilogue based talk. There will be spoilers from this point on, beware spoilerphobes!
The epilogues.... did anybody enjoy them? I really wish that they hadn't existed, because although they wrapped up the question of what was going to happen to Marya and Nikolai, and Pierre and Natasha, they didn't really clear anything else up or have any other purpose. They made me dislike Nikolai EVEN MORE, and honestly after I found out that both couples ended up together, I didn't care about anything else. And then the second half where he was just going ON AND ON AND ON AND ON AND ON about how all historians are crap or... whatever it was he was talking about, I actually found myself going "OH MY GOD SHUT UP!!!" at the book a few times.
After having read the whole book, I have to say that I am very glad that people have sort of worked out what makes a story successful now, and that most modern authors know how to tell stories without including massive irrelevant bits in them. Let's face it, if this was a manuscript that was submitted today, huge chunks would have been cut out of it, because there was so much stuff that just did not need to be there. Maybe people now do have shorter attention spans, but honestly I just found myself going "SERIOUSLY? You are still talking about this?!?!" quite a few times while reading.
So yes, in conclusion: Tolstoy needed an editor (or a better editor if he did actually have one!)
BUT WE DID IT!