This is one of the longest single book I have ever read with a huge part of history, Russian culture and really vast stage of events. No comparison with Mahabharata of course, but that story some other time. I did not read this book for a long time after purchasing it and the reason was very interesting. Each time I started reading it, I was getting confused with long and difficult Russian names of the characters within first few pages and I had to keep on going back and checking which person is doing what. This happened multiple times and I did not go beyond first few pages for many years.
Finally, I decided to not worry about names and just read assuming that I will figure them out eventually. Once I was past that initial inhibition, I was hooked to the book. It is truly a masterpiece by a great story-teller. The book is a story of Russian aristocratic family in the time of Tsar and Napoleon’s invasion of Russia. The story revolves around the central character of “Natasha” (Countess Natalia Ilyinichna Rostova) superbly performed by Audrey Hepburn in the movie adaptation. I have mentioned the full name to indicate why it was difficult for me to understand names.
This was also the book where I first read in detail about Napoleon and his strategy on war. It is brilliantly portrayed in the book. The book is a sort of fictional history with very accurate historical events but at the same time the story is centered around some fictional characters. The events leading to the war, resilience of Russian people, the way they fight back makes this book a true epic. On one hand there is historical war and on the other hand there are simple dreams and aspirations of young people and how these two mix up with each other as the story moves forward is truly exceptional.
Sometime back I also saw the movie adaptation and liked it though not sure whether it was only because of Audrey Hepburn or the movie itself was good.