Book review – War & Peace revisited

Last week I wrote about the marathon reading of Tolstoy’s classic War and Peace, which was published almost 150 years ago. As it happens I’ve just finished a book called War and Peace as well, but published only 9 years ago.

The book consists of two parts, all containing short stories – or extracts of longer stories – of various contemporary Russian writers. The first part, War, is about the modern-day Russian army and the second part, Peace, is by and about Russian women.

Needless to say I liked the second part best. 🙂 The first part is very harsh, gloomy and depressing and soon after I started reading the book, I adopted the strategy of alternating a story from the first part with one of the second.

War and PeaceThe story I liked best was “End of the Summer” by Maria Galina. It’s about a childless couple whose life is suddenly upset when a mysterious little clairvoyant girl appears that they treat as their own daughter. As opposed to many of the other stories, this one reads quite smoothly as it is written in a natural, accessible style. Many of the other stories are quite literary, with long descriptions and sophisticated vocabulary and grammar. I’ve wondered whether this is due to the translation …

Well, in any case, the style of the book wasn’t really my cup of tea. I personally prefer stories that have more action and dialogue and are more thrilling and addictive to read. The topics of the book’s stories are interesting, though, and very relevant in today’s Russia. So if you’re not scared by a high dose of literary bells and whistles, I’d definitely recommend this book.

You can find more info about the book and order it here.

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