Well, those of us who were happily tripping along reading about Natasha’s dolls and Count Rostov’s dancing may not have been quite prepared for the shift we get in this chapter.
With a brilliant segue, which works only on paper – the sixth dance at the Rostov’s coinciding with Count Bezukhov’s sixth stroke – we transfer to the awe-filled atmosphere of a house holding its breath – waiting for the death of the master.
But it is in a side room that the real secrets come out: Prince Vassily, never a particularly likeable fellow, now reveals his true nature – knowing full well what the Count’s death will mean for Pierre, he urges Katish to join him in a vicious piece of double-dealing. The irony of this scene is that Katish, in her half-distraught state, doesn’t want to be drawn in to Vassily’s plot. She’d rather just play the martyr – but with enough pushing, she’s persuaded to go along because of a hatred for Boris’ mum, Anna Mihalovna. What will happen next? If you’re like Dave E or Bruce M, you obviously can’t restrain yourselves, and you’re probably 10 chapters ahead of me by now . . . but for the rest of you – we’ll find out more tomorrow.
Either that, or you think that this is all completely “Days of Our Lives” and would rather turn to more substantial literature like Barbara Taylor Bradford.