Really? Has it actually been well over a year since I did a blog post? Well, yes, it has. Not that you’ve been waiting with bated breath for some words of “wisdom” from me, but I do feel a little guilty. I would say my New Year’s resolution was to be more regular with my postings, but that would be a lie. I don’t really make resolutions because I’ll just end up breaking them. Better to not even try.
Last year varied between horrible and not so bad. Our daughter (Tamala) got in a head-on collision when some guy lost control of his car. There’s nothing like rushing to a hospital when you have no idea what you’re going to find when you get there. Spending the drive praying helps, because she was banged up (and still is) but God made sure she was alive. Then Ed had to have surgery for his parathyroid, which I didn’t even know was a thing. Add to that my general sluggishness and there you have it. I was so glad to see 2022 in the rearview mirror. Of course, just to mess with us, Ed, Tamala, and I all got sick before the new year arrived. Not covid, thank goodness, and Ed’s lasted about two days. I still have mine. I hate bronchitis.
So, that’s all my excuses, lame as they are. I would say the past year was full of introspection and I left 2022 a better person, but that would be another lie. Although…the third book in the Carla series is going through the final stages, so YAY! And I started on the fourth book in the series. So…progress, I guess.
Am I moving right along with the fourth book? Uhhhh No. Okay, what’s the lame excuse this time? In my defense, it’s just a short (hopefully) break. Because I decided that I needed to read War and Peace. Why? That is an excellent question. I have no clue. Well, I did watch The Peanuts Movie and Charlie Brown had to do a book report. He decided to impress the little red-haired girl by doing it on War and Peace. Yes, I am easily influenced by weird stuff on TV. Thank you for asking. Oh! An Arby’s commercial. I love their turkey/bacon/ranch sandwich. I wonder what time they close. But…I digress.
I consider myself a fairly fast reader. On my mini-iPad, this is a 4200+ page novel. I honestly thought at one time I might have read it, since I’ve read a large number of the classics, but nope. When I first started it, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t get past the first few chapters. Tolstoy follows no modern writing rules, which is understandable, but which also makes the novel a little confusing. Add to that he has about a million different characters in the novel, has a tendency to call the same character by several different names, and what you end up with is a mishmash of confusion. And did I mention that all his characters have Russian or French or Prussian, etc. names? About the second chapter I’d have killed for someone named Smith.
I sorta solved that problems by keeping several Google tabs open to character names of War and Peace. I spend a lot of time flipping back and forth from the novel to Google, to find out who is who. And hitting the “star” in the novel to get one of his sentences translated. At least they put that feature in the book, which saved me from learning French and Russian to know what the heck they were saying or using the “translate” feature in iBooks.
So where am I now? Have I thrown in the towel and decided this is one classic I’ll never finish reading? As tempting as that sounds…no. I’m at 52% completion and even if I wanted to, I couldn’t stop reading it. Yes, I’m also one of those people. Obstinate, stubborn, compelled to finish what I start, etc. In this case, however, Tolstoy has sucked me into his world, and I care about these people. I’m not sure at what point that happened, but it did.
It’s a remarkable book, and if you happen to have a few weeks (or months) with nothing to do, wade in. Try to read it when you really have nothing on your agenda, because you’ll feel guilty you’re not working on your own novel because you’re reading someone else’s. What’s surprised me so much about the book is the amount of religious philosophy in it. I always imagined War and Peace would be more war, not much peace, and I definitely didn’t expect to find God in there. It’s a fascinating story, and I’ve learned a lot. So much so, that in fact I find it particularly irritating when I have to do something other than reading this book.
So why am I telling you all this? Another excellent question. And I’m not sure of the answer. Except—I read Uncle Tom’s Cabin and now War and Peace and have found that even though the old masters had a very strange way of writing, they’re not classics for nothing. One of my favorite books is A Tale of Two Cities. I don’t remember ever reading that and having a takeaway of religiousness like I have from these two books. Different takeaways from both of them, and in the case of War and Peace, we may be celebrating Cinco de Mayo before I get my final takeaway.
But this I do know. Tolstoy has a remarkable ability to present religion and the inward struggle of those searching for something and finding that something is God. So, maybe that will be the final takeaway. What you’re missing in life is yours for the asking. I’ll let you know in the next blog post if that’s it. There’s a chance I may be finished reading War and Peace by then.