Again, apologies for not getting on here last night . . . but down to business, the last chapter of Book 1!
Well, here we go . . . the end of Book 1. Show of hands? (Or comments.) Who’s still here? My sceptical wife is convinced that a lot of people will have dropped off . . .
Which I’m inclined to believe could be a possibility as well. So we started with about a dozen. Who’s still here?
Anyway, this last chapter, despite its apparently simplicity, actually has a lot going on under the surface. It’s quite masterfully put together. And quite sad . . . It starts with a very simple statement: “Prince Andrei was leaving the following evening.” But what a lot is contained in that statement.
He’s not just going on a business trip. He’s going to war. War means he may not come back. So, in all the conversations that ensue, the unsaid reality is that this could be the last they see of Andrei.
It comes through in Marya’s fervent religious sentiments and her giving him the icon.
It comes through in the discussion with his father – who is still unable to get the words, “I love you” out of his mouth.
But the shadow of death hangs over a couple of other people as well: to some extent, old Prince Bolkonsky is in his older years, and may pass away. But there is also the fear (whether rational or not) of Princess Lise, that she will die giving birth to her child.
All of this floating around – and only Marya seems to be the person to be able to give a proper goodbye. Andrei barely says a word to his wife. And his father ends the chapter (and Book I) with the door slam that is the expression of his sorrow.
Also, as a side note, you may have noticed Andrei’s impatience with Mademoiselle Bourienne for showing an interest in him. Even though nothing happened, did this remind him of the St Petersburg society, and the affair that may or may not have been happening between Hippolyte and Lise? Either way, it seems his disgust with the vast majority of humanity is well and truly ensconced.
So the questions that remain are: Will Andrei find on the battlefield what he cannot find in Russian aristocratic society?
Will the shadow of death fall?
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the end of Book 1. Hope you’ve enjoyed the journey so far. I’ll be back later in the day to blog about 2.1! Exciting, eh?
The best thing is – in Book 2, everyone has the same chapter numbers! If that’s not a cause for celebration, I don’t know what is.