Monday, August 9, 2010

Two Milestones

I'm happy to announce what I consider to be a major accomplishment ... I have finished "War & Peace" by Leo Tolstoy. Regardless of what others may think, this book is not a boring read. Of course, this is my opinion (what else do I have to offer?) but I was really quite surprised when I began reading the first page. It wasn't what I had envisioned at all. Yes, there is page after page of war description, destruction and strategy (they were the pages hardest for me to get through) but I enjoyed the chapters relating the lives of several families of wealth and nobility in Russia. Todd and I decided that this book is the forerunner of every historical novel and soap opera that has been written since the mid 1850's. I also loved learning more about Russia and its people, at least from the very early 1800's. The book's time period is from 1805-1820, covering the War with Napoleon. I have learned a lot. I really knew nothing of this time period. Most of what I've read has been before the 1800's or after 1850. I also wasn't sure just when I would finish the book but I found that I really wanted to read it so it took priority over a lot of things (blogging, for example).

When I was growing up, "War & Peace" was always joked about and I knew that it was a big book but that's it. It has been on our book shelf (Todd may know where it came from) for a long time and a few weeks ago, I just picked it up out of curiosity. I'm so glad I did! The most interesting fact, to me, is that people really don't change, regardless of the time period. They just speak and dress differently.

Also of interest (and sadness) is the reality that Russia is up in flames this past week or so, with all the wild fires burning. Just last week, I was reading in this book about Moscow burning during the war. One of those coincidences I have sometimes.

So .... if you have a few weeks to devote to this kind of literature, I recommend it. Just skim over the hard-to-read horrors of war that are in a few paragraphs. Tolstoy had a sense of humor, though, which pops up in unexpected places. It compelled me to read a bit about the author as well, to get an idea of where he was coming from. Of course, I related all that I read to my husband and the kids heard quite a bit. I think everyone feels like they read the book through me so now they don't need to read it themselves!

During this frenzy of heavy reading, I did find time to celebrate our wedding anniversary. On Aug 6, Todd and I celebrated our 22nd year! We had a quiet lunch at a lovely restaurant in town, overlooking the river. Now begins year 23 - I am so blessed and thankful. He's my man!

We also found out that a nice couple I met at the Frances Mayes book signing I attended last spring (we've been emailing ever since) also got married on Aug 6, a year after we did! How fun to find that out! My parents also got married on this date, now that I think about it. Unfortunately, my father died a few months before I met Todd; my parents did, however, have a very good marriage. Yes, it was a good date to get married on!


jugglingpaynes said...

Happy anniversary!

War and Peace was also one of those books where there is some controversy over how much of the writing was his and how much was his wife, who transcribed his work. I don't know the whole story, I'll have to remember to ask Marina about it when she gets back from London tomorrow.

It's a shame that so many classics get mocked the way they do. I just imagine how many treasured stories get set aside while we overcome our own prejudices regarding them. Kudos to you for picking up War and Peace!

Peace and Laughter,

Cate said...

Well huge congratulations both on the anniversary and on completing the book :-)

You've challenged me - I need to read it one day.

Anyhow, all the best for your 23rd year - our 22nd anniversary is in December, so we are not far behind.

jugglingpaynes said...

Hi Kate!
Marina is home. Thank you for your prayers, they are always welcome! :o)

The full story: Tolstoy's wife was the only one who could read his handwriting, so she transcribed his work to create five copies for the publishers so that it could be printed. Since she was transcribing it, she could also edit it as she wrote. Think about that. She copied War and Peace five times. Amazing. She probably knew the story better than he did. :o)

Did you ever read Dr Zhivago? I know that was one my mother loved.

Peace and Laughter,

Mama Self said...

Cograts, Kate! Trey read it last year, and now Katy will this year. I will eventually... :) Trey said it was a really good book, too.

Happy belated anniversary to you both! I'm glad you were able to do something nice together.

Enjoy the rest of your week!

appleleaf said...

First of all, three lots of congratulations are in order. Happy anniversary to you and Todd, happy 15th to Chad and congrats on reading War & Peace. I was just talking about it the other day to a friend who was told that she writes like Leo Tolstoy.

I agree with Cristina's comment. Works which have stood the test of time have plenty of merit.

Yes, we've been getting a nice bit rain down in South Australia and it's wonderful to see the countryside flourishing. We'd almost forgotten what heavy rain was like.


appleleaf said...

PS, I hadn't read all of the comments. Tolstoy's wife is one of the sorts of people I'd love to have around! A true unsung hero and I'm sure he must have been grateful!