What a great chapter this one is, bringing the whole engagement subplot to a close, while opening up the major events that are about to shake the world of War and Peace.
I can still remember this chapter quite clearly from the first time I read it. There’s something incredibly moving about Natasha’s apology for all the trouble she has caused, and Pierre’s declaration of love.
It doesn’t take a Hollywood twist – she doesn’t get keen on Pierre, and he doesn’t start cheating on his wife (though that said, there’s been enough hints that he’s into drinking and prostitution on the side, so let’s not assume that he’s a complete innocent in his marriage). But he’s said what he thinks, and that’s enough.
It’s slightly different in every translation, but I think this paragraph works in any of them:
“If I were not myself, but the handsomest, cleverest, best man in the world, and if I were free I would be on my knees this minute to beg for your hand and your love.”
Or am I just a bit soppy?
Anyway, then we finish with the comet. The novel, by the way, is now starting to feel a lot less random and a lot more planned than it has when we first started, but I don’t know whether that’s just because I’m used to its style and the way everything unfolds or what.
But you can’t really miss the epic feel of the comet – symbolising joy for Pierre and fear and terror for many others. And in the context of the novel, everyone’s right . . .
See you tomorrow for Book 9!