War and Peace was published in 1869 and is considered Leo Tolstoy`s finest literary achievement. Subdivided into four books of volumes, War and Peace is extremely long for a novel, but reading it is a delight.
In writing the book, Tolstoy got inspired also from his military experience as he served in the Crimean War. The novel is a historical fiction, but Tolstoy made it more than that by developing his own views of history and the interconnection between events and individuals. In addition, the narrative structure and the variety and psychological analysis are mastery built while the visual details are evocative and dramatic.
The epic tale War and Peace is a massive novel that makes the chronicle of the tumultuous historical events happened during the French invasion of Russia, at the beginning of the 19th century, within the Napoleonic wars. With a large cast of characters, including real historical personalities, the book actually focuses on five aristocratic families, particularly the Bezukhovs, the Bolkonskys, and the Rostovs, in the context of the impact the Napoleonic era had on the Tsarist society and aristocracy.
The story begins at a party where most of the main characters and families are introduced as they enter the salon. Each family has its own issues, intrigues and hidden secrets. As war begins, men go to war and the experience they have on the battlefield completely changes their lives. Aristocratic families have to face ruin and denigration. There are love affairs, duels, infidelities, ambitions, disillusions, military dramas, family dramas, religious issues, obsessions, treason’s and assassinates.
Themes and style
The theme of war is in fact subordinate to the story of family existence. The search for the meaning of life is another important theme of the book, as well as the limits of leadership and the irrationality of human motives. Other themes and motifs are: love, financial loss, death, war, family, relationships and Russian aristocracy. Luxurious details are combined with amazing breaking into the narrative by introducing historical essays.