The genre: Historical, epic
The gist: Oh boy. Lots of stuff happens to lots of Russians during Napoleon’s 1812 invasion of Russia. It’s big, endearing, and human.
The background: The musical Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 brought me here. It’s based on only a small section of War and Peace, but I loved the characters so much I wanted more of their story.
1,300 pages later, here we are.
The review: My first Tolstoy!
Finished this bad boy back in October but held off on posting because I have a lot of ~thoughts~ and ~feelings~ …
But first — look how pretty and minimalist this Oxford edition is ✨️📚
So, Seinfeld was kind of right when he joked that Tolstoy’s original title for War and Peace was War…What Is It Good For? Because that’s basically the point of this novel. War is bad. War is dumb. War is started by countless random events accumulating, and it rewards the worst traits in people, like ruthlessness and blind loyalty. Everything is backwards in war: brother killing brother when they otherwise might be friends.
This is a rich tapestry of a tale. Challenging at times, with blocky, philosophy-packed paragraphs and painstaking battle details, but mostly it’s charming and heart-wrenching.
The characters, though ❤️ The characters were the highlight for me. Everyone in War and Peace is so human and multi-faceted, I was sad to be done hanging out with them when I finished reading. I loved Pierre’s constant existential crises, Natasha’s bright, enduring spirit, Nikolai’s earnestness, Marya’s reflective tranquility.
I don’t know that I’ll ever read it in its entirety again—life is just too short 😂—but I know I’ll page through to revisit some of the beautiful writing 📖
The rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5
They had evidently both formed the same resolution, the eyes of both shone with satisfaction and a confession that besides its sorrow, life also has joy.—Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines (Excerpt)
by Pablo Neruda
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.
We sleep when we don’t love.—Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
The genre: Contemporary fiction, romance-ish
The gist: A marriage on the rocks gets a second chance thanks to the help of a magic phone.
The review: Far-fetched but charming 💛
Georgie and Neal fell in love in college, got married, had two kids, and somewhere along the way lost sight of what made their relationship work.
Just when things seem irreparably bad, Georgie finds that her old landline phone at her mother’s house can magically get a hold of Neal in the 1990s, when they were first falling for each other. These calls help her remember her love for her now-husband, and ultimately save their marriage with a little time-traveling weirdness.
As a kid who grew up with landlines and VCRs, I like the idea of finding some elusive magic in analog technology. Because, like, there was something different and more special about a long landline phone chat—where you stood or sat or paced twirling the cord in your fingers, solely focused on the conversation because you were literally tethered to it—than the constant access we have to each other now.
I love Rainbow Rowell’s characters and writing. Their charm and endearment make this wild plot point work.
The rating: ⭐⭐⭐/5
Neal didn’t take Georgie’s breath away. Maybe the opposite. But that was okay—that was really good, actually, to be near someone who filled your lungs with air.—Rainbow Rowell, Landline
And Wuthering Heights is on my reading list this fall!
Also might be listening to Kate Bush (and Taylor Swift) on repeat hugging a bottle of wine and contemplating my past failed romances…
Hope you’re enjoying some spooky reads this October!