Wednesday, September 21, 2011

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy 1386 pages

I am a person who accepts a challenge, creates goals and follows through despite difficulties. When the library's adult department chose War and Peace as the book for the first U City Adult book club, I accepted the challenge. However, rather than read all of War and Peace, I chose to listen to War and Peace by downloading it to my ipod. I also had a goal to lose a lot of weight and thought that I could kill two birds with one weighty book. I began swimming with War and Peace. I took War and Peace to the library convention (and got so confused, I started Part 2 over when I returned). Difficulties? I replaced my ipod hard case with a light weight, much easier to swim laps with case. Unfortunately it took me the loss of 2 yes, 2 classic ipods before I figured out the correct way to seal the water tight case. After drowning the second ipod, I took a break from War and Peace -- since I lost my place, I had to back up to the beginning of Part 3 again. So, after a couple of days of swimming to kids music and Unbroken, I resumed War and Peace. I embraced a rhythm of a mile a day and I was flying through chapters, until I hit another roadblock. Somehow my clumsy fingers changed a setting to shuffle. I was swimming along and it took me awhile, I confess to discover that the tale was literally out of sync. Suddenly Andre had risen from his death bed and had rejoined the living and then a moment later, Natasha was married with several children. AAArghhh! Back I went to the beginning again of Part 3. By now, the library's book club had ended and I had, sad to say missed all of the discussion meetings...and treats. But this was a matter of pride. I would finish, if only for the bragging rights. Now, there was a new wrinkle. The weather had changed. The chilly nights had dropped the pool temperature to a chilly 67 degrees. Could I finish this book before I turned into a wrinkly popsicle?
Hallelujah. I just finished this morning... and now for my thoughts. To me, War and Peace was three books in 1 very large volume. Part 1 was the story of the war between Napoleon and Alexander I-- with way too much detail of the strategy and skirmishes. Part 3 was a philosophical essay on man, free will and how history is written. Frankly, this section bored me to tears. I crave plot, action, characters, not philosophy. Part 2 was a period parlor drama very similar to Charles Dickens with lots of characters, changes of fortune, and death. I enjoyed Book 2 despite the multitude of characters. It might have been a bit easier to keep track of the characters because I listened to the story and the reader (Frederick Davidson) did an admirable job of varying his voice to portray each character. Honestly, I liked Gone With The Wind with its war in the background and Scarlett & Rhett up front.
Was it worth the time -- listening to all 48 cds? It did help distract me from the boredom of swimming 140 laps daily, (I lost 36 pounds!!), but I prefer popular fiction (adult and kids) to this masterpiece.

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