In some ways, War and Peace is starting to remind me of classical music in its structure. Classical music often returns to the same familiar themes, but they will be varied or made more elaborate every time you come to them.
And here we have another evening with the Rostovs, which in many respects, is like many of the other evenings we’ve spent with the Rostov family so far in this book. Things are happy and friendly (in fact, it’s nice to see that the family seems to have bonded a bit better and come back together after all the goings-on), Natasha is singing again, their home is always open to Pierre, and even old Shinshin is there to crack jokes.
But at the same time, everything is a touch more complex – Pierre is fighting really hard with his feelings with Natasha, and decides that this is the last visit. The war is looming, and everyone knows it is far more serious than the last one they lived through. Petya, once the innocent little boy, wants to run off and join the hussars like his big brother. And even Natasha is not perfectly light and happy – she is still recovering and, most moving of all, wondering whether Andrei will ever forgive her.
In fact, it’s kind of like life, isn’t it? The longer we know people, the better we know people, the more difficult, complex and richer our relationships become. We see people we’ve known for ages do things that sadden us. We have conversations with people that we’d never have when they were only casual acquaintances. Things are far less superficial, and that’s what this evening with the Rostovs feels like to me. We’ve seen beyond the rich aristocrats who throw parties to the human beings underneath.
And . . . seeing as tomorrow is New Years’ Day, that’s my other day off. So I’ll see you all back on 2 January 2009. Have a fantastic New Years’ Eve, everyone. Don’t do anything diabolically dangerous, silly or that you’ll regret. And don’t insult any French people you might meet, just because you’ve been reading War and Peace.