I DID IT! I made it through my first epic with 10 days to spare. (And it would have been longer…trust me.)
So, I was getting antsy not sure if month 1 of my reading project was going to get completed, as I’d left my kindle on the plane on my ride home from Colorado, and I knew I couldn’t go however long it took for it to come back without reading anything, I trotted down to Barnes And Noble Sunday morning. $80 later, I have at least a months worth of reading material (plus my next two epics…) and an edition of War And Peace, so that I could finish it up.
And finish it I did.
This book was a challenge, though not as much of one as I expected. It’s incredibly long, but not overly difficult to read and has a charming love story at it’s center. (It’s even a triangle! WAAAHHHTTTT!!!) Although I would often put it down and think, “wow, everyone in this book is an asshole!”
Natasha is an asshole. Andrei is an asshole. Nicholas is an asshole. The entire Kuragin family are assholes. Pierre is definitely an asshole. Sonya might not be…Sonya is good.
And Andrei isn’t here…
But an entire cast of unlikable characters didn’t wreck this book for me. In fact that enhanced it. It’s a story of imperfect people caught in a whirlwind of history. Also a lot of diatribes about the nature and philosophy of documenting history. This is like the whaling stuff in Moby Dick, but way more interesting to me. There is some inevitability at play here, the society that these assholes move in is doomed (in a larger sense than even Tolstoy knew when writing the thing…) by the destruction of Moscow by Napoleon’s forces, so the petty society movements that are almost Austen-like in their frivolity take on a melancholy air of running out the clock.
Switching translations partway through was only confusing for a moment while I figured out the differences in naming conventions. (It’s a complicated Russian novel, everyone has like, nine different names.) Also, I was thrilled to learn that I can still read French pretty well. I could always read better than I could speak, but it’s been years since I’ve even tried and I only had to go to the footnotes for the French dialog in this book a couple of times. Yay!
I’ll probably read at least one more book before January is over, and February’s epic is Dune by Frank Herbert. (And now for something completely different!)
For now though, I’m glad to have kicked off with something considered as challenging as War And Peace, I think it’s given me some confidence moving into the rest of this project. I’ve also decided, even when I get the Kindle back, I’ll do actual physical versions of the epics. 11 epics & 27 books to go!