I want to write this review while the book is still quite fresh in my mind. This is a masterpiece. Not quite to the same level as The Count of Monte Christo (which I think will be hard to top) but it is nonetheless very much incredible. It’s not a book to go in to thinking it will be an easy read and I really don’t think it’s a good place to start with classics but it is one of the most amazing novels I’ve read this year.
The scope of this novel is insane and I don’t think I can summarise it and do the novel justice. The characters are varied and well written, there are layers to each of their personalities and by the end of the book I felt I actually knew these people. It’s not just the characters; the story flows beautifully and moves from point of view to point of view seamlessly, dialogue didn’t bore me (for once!) and everything contributed to make this an absolutely incredible novel. Tolstoy’s writing was a lot more readable and enjoyable than I was expecting to the point I’m actually considering reading War and Peace.
I part read, part listened to this novel and that really helped for me. Chunky classics like this lend themselves to audiobook quite well and the audio format really help me focus on the story. I chose the older audiobook, read by David Horovitch, and I don’t regret that decision. It was very easy to listen to, my only issue with it is sometimes – when a character was whispering – it was a smidge too quiet for me!
The main reason, for me, that this is a 4* not a 5* is that there were a significant number of rather dull chapters, particularly around the half way point I found myself getting infuriated by chapters on farming. Maybe it’s just me? I understand the need for a full scope on the situation but 19th century Russian agriculture is not really something I have a burning passion to read about. That being said, I feel that this will be a book I revisit in the future and get a lot more out of from the act of rereading, it took me the best part of the month but it was entirely worth it.