Well, I’m caught up. How amazing is that? And here’s this very quite but beautiful chapter where we see Natasha’s slow recovery from her depression.
It’s interesting to read that she’s written off Pierre still being interested in her. On the one hand, I’m rather glad that they’re not going to start an affair, because nobody really wants to think of Natasha as that kind of girl (oddly enough, the fact that Pierre regularly is out drinking and carousing never seems to take away from his character, but we’d hate to think of Natasha involved in that life).
But even more interesting was the fast of St Peters that Natasha goes through with her neighbour. I thought this was really interesting, and I’m not entirely sure how it works. But I love the idea of the ritual, that kind of reminds you of cleansing.
So each day, dressed modestly, Natasha and Madame Byelov head off to church in the wee small hours. And day by day it builds up, until finally, they hit the final Sunday when they can go take Communion, dress in white, and feel cleansed of their sins.
It’s a strange but beautiful moment in the story. What’s even stranger, however, is the little superstition Countess Rostova has of spitting at the end. It’s not so much the spitting that I find strange as the fact that a family that can believe so much in an all-powerful God is still so superstitious on the side. But Russia, I think, can be a strange place.