Now, you might have to cast your mind back for this character, but if you remember Natasha’s Dad and his Daniel Cooper dance way back in Book 1 – this is the rather large old woman that he was dancing with.

Still friends with the Rostovs, despite all their financial difficulties, she is looking after the girls while they’re in Moscow.  There’s not a lot that happens in this chapter, but the standout thing for me was that Marya Dmitryevna is clearly of the old school of Russian aristocrat.

She immediately draws a distinction between Natasha and Sonya, based on their social standing, and treats them differently because of it.  Poor old Sonya . . . I’m almost wishing at this stage that some other person would show up and woo her, but I don’t think there’s really any characters of that type around.

There’s Boris, but there’s no way we’d want to let him loose on her.  There’s Ratbag Kuragin, but I don’t think that’s a good idea.  Nor would I wish Hippolyte on anyone.

There is Pierre, but he’s married, and I don’t think he’d be her type.

And so that really does only leave us with Nikolai . . .

Complicated, isn’t it?  A novel with more characters than you can shake a stick at and we can’t get someone decent to pair up with Sonya . . .

Well, we’ll come back tomorrow to see how Natasha goes meeting her prospective father-in-law.


3 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 8.6 – Marya Dmitryevna’s House

  1. I really do like these eccentric, slightly off-centre characters, who Tolstoy create and crafts so well and you can’t help but feel a soft spot for them, even when they’re loud and overbearing like Marya Dmitrievna. So I was glad to see her make a reappearance here. I couldn’t help but wonder, as I was reading about her again, how a conversation between her and Old Prince Bolkonsky might go. They’d be quite a match for each other, I would imagine!

    But as for poor Sonya – yes, it does seem hard to work out who would be right for her. I reckon things could have and should have worked with Nikolai, who really can be quite nice if you get him on a good day: if only Nikolai’s mum wasn’t so obsessed with trying to swap his heart for the family’s financial security!

  2. Well, we will soon be praising Marya D (the dragon lady, as I recall her being in Book 1. Her ‘take charge’ attitude is about to ‘save the day’, as we’ll soon see.
    (Yeah , Ratbag – we’ll be seein’ that one!)

  3. This is odd right here . . .

    From early in the morning, wearing a dressing jacket, she attended to her household affairs, and then she drove out: on holy days to church and after the service to jails and prisons on affairs of which she never spoke to anyone.

    Jails and prisons . . . I wonder what the difference was? Jails are maybe ‘overnights’, waiting for court – and prisons are probably where people spend their sentence.

    That’s the only thing I can think of.


    Character count . . .

    Suppert-Roguet – Madame Suppert-Roguet –

    Next morning Marya Dmitrievna took the young ladies to the Iberian shrine of the Mother of God and to Madame Suppert-Roguet, who was so afraid of Marya Dmitrievna that she always let her have costumes at a loss merely to get rid of her.


    Vasilevna – Princess Irina Vasilevna –

    The other day young Princess Irina Vasilevna came to see me; she was an awful sight- looked as if she had put two barrels on her arms. You know not a day passes now without some new fashion…. And what have you to do yourself?” she asked the count sternly.

    There’s only those two that I can find here in this chapter. Marya Dmitrievna, of course, has already been counted in Book 1.

    Total count so far – 654

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