And now it all begins to slowly converge.  The Rostovs’ mismanagement of their finances has now reached the stage where it’s impinging on the kids’ lives.

Back when Nikolai and Sonya were younger, even though there was always the talk about how she wasn’t well off and he was – our Hollywood sensibilities told us that love would always win the day – wouldn’t it?

But here’s Countess Rostova planning to marry Nikolai off to Julie Karagina.  (Now, for those who can’t remember Julie, I think the only time she’s made a physical appearance in the book is right back in Book 1, when she and her mum came to visit the Rostovs for Natasha’s name day.  Other than that, she’s the person who Marya Bolkonsky writes letters to.  She’s not central, but she’s well within the seven degrees of separation that seem to exist between every character here.)

So, what will win out in the end?  Love or finances?  Nikolai seems to be trying to have both.

And then Natasha, after being patient for so long, is getting depressed.  What I’m not quite sure is the timing thing.  At the end of Book 6, when Andrei wrote to his sister, he said that he was six months into the separation.

This chapter said that Natasha was four months into it.

Are they in different time zones, maybe?  I’m a bit confused . . .

But then so is everybody in this chapter.

See you tomorrow.


6 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 7.8 – Marriage and Waiting

  1. I have a suspicion, Matt, that the time issue here might be an oversight. I have a vague memory (but then pretty well all my memories are vague) of reading somewhere that there was this little inconsistency – and a few others – throughout War and Peace, and that it’s surprising that editors/translatorsdon’t comment on these in footnotes.

    Anyway, it’s quite a change of pace here – and quite a change to read the last sentence of this chapter, “Things were not cheerful in the Rostovs’ house”. I remember, a few chapters ago, we were already getting a sense of how the carefree, childlike happiness – of the parents as much as of the kids – was beginning to change; but I think here is where we get the first real signs of unhappiness in this family that is so good at being happy. And it comes as quite a jolt after the last few chapters, especially after the wonderful scene in the Uncle’s country cabin.

    I’m sure a lot of us read with horror the whole thing about Nikolai’s mother trying to arrange his marriage as a way of getting the family out of financial troubles, and her grudging attitude (albeit something that she is ashamed of) towards Sonya, the poor dowerless girl who Nikolai really loves. But then parental (and societal) filters on who we love and don’t love is by no means something that is confined to the 19th Century Russian aristocracy – and there are still plenty of examples today of parents or societies frowning on the directions in which people’s hearts take them – objections to the race, the religion, the social status, the gender, of the people other people fall in love with.

    And then, of course, there is Natasha’s growing sadness at Andrei’s absence. And we know that with a girl like Natasha, who experiences everything so intensely, this is not likely to be just a small thing.

    But we shall see….!

  2. Matt, what do you mean by the ‘seven degrees of separation’ . . . I don’t understand that. Well, maybe I do – a lot of the characters are ‘loosely connected’ . . . maybe I do understand it, but just can’t grasp exactly how to express it.

    Love or finances . . . it’s like today’s modern world – people want too much! If Nik and Sonya wanted to continue living at the Rostov home in the style to which they are accustomed, then it’s impossible – there’s no money – something’s got to be sold off.

    I dunno’ about the time zone . . .

    I’m going to have one more ‘listen’ to this chapter, and another look at the ‘text’ – then I’ll find any new characters that need to be added to my list at Wild City.


  3. OK . . . the clock has just rolled over – it is the 15th here in Toronto – 12:08 am . . .

    I listened through this chapter and am compelled to make the following observations . . .

    What is with this woman, Countess Rostova? She’s doing the same thing she did with the Boris situation – she let Natasha and Boris romance together for weeks on end, then had them break it up.

    Why did she allow it in the first place?

    She has known Nicolai and Sonya are in love and have been for a long, long time . . . they are eventually going to want to be married. Now they are short of money and sees him marrying Julie – does she expect Sonya’s feelings to just disappear?

    She must have forseen this – why didn’t she see this months before and arrange to have Sonya moved to the house of other relatives – separate them?

    Although I like the Count and Countess for their funloving ways and his generosity to others, I am exasperated with them at times – and this is one of those times.

  4. The character count:

    Belova – An old maiden lady

    Dimmler – Mr. & Mrs. (2)

    Vogel – the dancing master (and his family)

    Such were Dimmler the musician and his wife, Vogel the dancing master and his family, Belova, an old maiden lady, an inmate of the house, and many others such as Petya’s tutors, the girls’ former governess, and other people who simply found it preferable and more advantageous to live in the count’s house than at home.

    That brings the count to a walloping 618!

  5. “Seven degrees of separation” is a concept (which I’m not sure that I believe) that says that everyone in the world is separated by no more than seven other people.

    So, for instance, I might pass some stranger on the street, who I do not know. But that stranger might be related to someone who once worked with someone who was once working with someone who was married to someone who is a workmate of a friend of mine.

    And so the theory is, that all of us are connected by about seven degrees . . .

    Actually, scrap all that. I just went and looked on wikipedia, and it’s actually six degrees. Here’s the link for anyone who wants to read it:

  6. Ohhhh! I’ve heard that phrase before, seven or six, I dunno’ . . . but never grasped it. It’s an interesting concept.

    But what if I were to move to your continent? I wouldn’t know anybody there! ‘Cept you, and other Australians I know from online . . . would it be possible that all the people around me, just might know you?

    I don’t know that I believe it either.

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