Day 21: 1075 – 1129
After the death of Prince Andrei, Princess Marya and Natasha develop a meaningful friendship. The animosity that they harbored against each other no longer exists. They support each other in times of loneliness, although they hardly ever talk about Prince Andrei. Their friendship is one that is not only about keeping each other company, but it is the intertwining of two souls in platonic love.
Going back to the business of war, the Russians believe that they have trounced the Frenchmen, what with their retreat to Smolensk, the town where they started out to march against Moscow. And since the French are dissolving and fleeing, the Russian heads decide to wage another war. Kutuzov, the general commander, the one held responsible for the loss of Moscow, is appointed again. However, he dies, maybe out of old age, or maybe out of exhaustion from all this war business. And it is only at this point that I realized he is a real historical figure.
We have seen Pierre always on the go, but this time, he goes down with a sickness. He is under the care of her aunt in the town of Orel. Although they are not really in good terms, they develop good relations at this time.
We could expect to see Pierre die since everybody else is dying. But lo, Pierre recovers. He even renews his relations with the Rostovs. And after a long time, Pierre finally admits his love for Natasha. It is finally Pierre’s time. Looks like there will be a happy ending after all.
Day 22: 1129 – 1179
Finally, we are here on the first part of the epilogue, and it is supposed to wrap things up. An addition to the death count would be Count Ilya Andreich’s death. For some reason, he dies. And what a wrong timing, at such a time when peace is at hand. To tell the truth, I am not really fond of the Rostov father, although he is always almost everywhere.
Despite the death of the count, Pierre and Natasha marry each other. They have kids, a big house, good business, and all that. Nikolai and Princess Marya also marry. The two bring up their family at Bald Hills, where they tend to farming and managing their estates pretty well.
There is a sharp contrast between these two marriages. The former is fun and youthful; the latter is deep and spiritual. I cannot say which one is the better marriage because both have their pros and cons.
And the book is about to end. Who are the last characters to be mentioned? The countess is turning into a moody old wretch. Sonya is the silently contemptuous tea server. Denisov is now a high-ranking official. Nikolai Bolkonsky is leaning more towards Pierre’s ideals than his father. These people, along with Pierre, Natasha, Nikolai, Princess Marya, and their respective kids, hold a gathering for a particular festival. There’s a little talk about social idealism, have a little argument, go to sleep, have some intimate chitchat, and the novel is over.
Day 23: 1179 – 1217
At least the fiction part is over. You might expect the story to end in the second part of the epilogue. No. The novel officially ended on that night, the night of that gathering at Bald Hills. The second part of the epilogue is dedicated to a lot of ranting about history, power, freedom, and necessity.
It’s like an extended essay. It is enlightening to read this part. However, I was little exasperated because I felt that the chronicling of lives of the characters are left hanging in the air. I actually think that the second part of the epilogue should have been the first so that reader would not be disappointed to find out that there is nothing else written about the characters that they have read so much about.
In addition, most of the reflections on this part have already been discussed in bits in previous parts, so it was a little repetitive. I was even on the verge of screaming, even ditching the book. But how can anyone give up on the last part?
The second part of the epilogue can be read separately without even knowing any single character or event in the novel. In all fairness, the writer has good points. He is very instructive, thoughtful, and convincing. But I still want to know what would happen to Pierre, Natasha, Nikolai, Marya, and especially the young Nikolai Bolkonsky. He was talking cryptically in the end. Oh well, I just hope he becomes a man whom everybody would look up to.
And that’s the end of War and Peace. The diaries may be delayed, particularly the last two installments, but the events are still fresh in my head. For how long, that I cannot answer.