Charlotte Reads Classics

Slowly, slowly, she sipped a sentence.

War and Peace: Volume II, Part V

The Bolkonsky’s follow suit and move to Moscow. The old price is becoming senile and argues with Marya about her staying with him. 

Julie Kuragin ends up marrying Boris; a loveless match made for prospects (him) and because of fear of age (her).

Natasha and Andrey: She meets his family which goes badly. Whilst attending an opera she meets Anatole Kuragin – total playboy, generally quite horrible. After meeting three times he convinces her to run away and elope despite the fact that he is secretly already married. Pierre has to sort it all out, as discreetly as possible, whilst the shame and scandal means Natasha loses both her fiance and the man she was going to elope with. Basically it was all set up in a way that nothing good could ever come of it, also Natasha is an idiot.

War and Peace: Volume II, Part IV

At the Rostov’s over christmas:

  • Nikolay returns on leave due to family’s slow deterioration of funds
  • After a hunting party he sees the happiness of the lower classes who choose Russian values over western ones, are self sufficient and find simple pleasures, compared to the aristocracy who are all about money and extravagance.
  • Natasha is depressed waiting for Prince Andrey to come back from being abroad- they have no contact over the time they must wait before marrying.
  • The Countess tries to set up a marriage between Nikolay and Julie Kuragin (wealthy heiress) to ensure a financial future for the family.
  • Nikolay comes to realise his love for Sonya (again?!) and vows to be with her once he has finished in the army, despite the family’s lack of permission.
  • The Rostov’s move to moscow because of money… generally everyone is unhappy in this section.

War and Peace: Volume II, Part III

Prince Andrey falls in love with Natasha, in what must be the weirdest and unlikely pairing ever, but they are forced to wait a year before they marry because his father disapproves. Pierre is back with his wife and becoming heavily involved in the ideology of the freemasons.

The whole world is split in two for me now: one half is her, and it’s all happiness, hope and light; the other is not her, and it’s all misery and darkness…
Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

Wild Swans

Wild Swans, Jung Chang

This biography is so eye opening. Jung Chang uses traces her family history back through her own lifetime, her mother and her grandmother in order to comment on the larger history of China from 1900 up until 1980s. Her grandmother had her feet bound according to tradition and was ‘married’ off to a warlord as a concubine. Her mother and father were communist officials under Mao’s initial reign, although later fell out of favour during the cultural revolution. Prior to this book, I knew nothing of China’s history and had absolutely no idea it was so brutal. It is written with honesty and is so personal it really draws you in. Banned in China, it is a bestseller in other countries, and Jung Chang has also written a biography of Mao.