Thursday 10 December 2015

Task 35: Read War and Peace

In my last but one blog, published on Friday 27 November, I shared with you the encouraging news that I had at last immersed myself in War and Peace and was working my way through it like a dose of salts.  The deadline I'd set myself for completing it was Tuesday 1 December......and with 618 pages to go, a serious readathon was required.  

On Saturday morning I headed back to the sofa and picked up the story again. The fortunes of the Rostovs and Bolkonskys continued to ebb and flow (a lot more ebbing than flowing, it has to be said). I was completely absorbed. And then Page 1177 took me by surprise. A certain French commander received a name check. 'Andrew, look, Tolstoy's just mentioned a top level French soldier called Marshall Junot' I said excitedly. Andrew didn't bat an eyelid. 'I've told you about him before,' he said, 'he's that relative of mine who went mad at the end of the Napoleonic wars and used to march up and down the streets of Paris wearing nothing but his sword and epaulettes.' I always knew I'd married into a noble but eccentric line.  

One final war, invasion and subsequent retreat from Moscow later, I made it to the epilogue. That was on Monday afternoon. I loved Part 1 of the epilogue. All my favourite characters had survived to make an appearance and there were some relatively optimistic plot line endings - much more upbeat than East Enders.  Part 2 of the epilogue was a different matter. It contained a 41-page in-depth analysis of the Napoleonic wars..... I skim-read it dutifully for Tolstoy's sake (he'd obviously worked very hard on it) but I rather wished he'd wrapped things up 41 pages earlier. 

On Tuesday 1 December, at 5.15pm, I finally reached the end of Tolstoy's epic tome. By coincidence, The Times featured an article on War and Peace that day to highlight the forthcoming TV series. The author of the article, Professor John Sutherland, expressed the view that because W&P is so long no one has actually read it, describing it as 'the Everest of unread fiction'. Well excuse me!!   Although as I read through his very entertaining Cheat's Guide to War and Peace, I found myself from time to time questioning the accuracy of his synopsis, which begs the question - has Prof Sutherland himself ever read it.....?

My copy of War and Peace is now filed away in the bookcase. That's thirty tasks duly completed at the halfway mark of my challenge - just another thirty to go!  

So now it's time to move the focus of my fund-raising from the older end of the age spectrum to the younger end. For the second part of the challenge my chosen charity is Shooting Star Chase, a leading children's hospice charity caring for babies, children and young people, based in Guildford and Hampton. I've set up a new JustGiving page dedicated to Shooting Star Chase, which is at:   

If you visit the new page you'll find it features a gorgeous little girl, Thea Rose Redford, who is the inspiration behind my decision to raise money for Shooting Star Chase. It'll be my pleasure to write a more detailed post about her in my blog very soon.

Always remembering Thea: 2012 -2013


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