As I may have mentioned here before, I am reading War and Peace. I’ve been reading it since the start of December, when I loftily and optimistically expected to be finished by the new year. As of this morning, I am 1,155 pages in with 289 to go, so I’m well in sight of the finishing line, relatively speaking, but I still don’t quite believe I’m ever going to get there.
Part of the problem is that the physical thing itself is so large that my reading locations are limited. I lug it to and from work every day and read it on the tube, but I can’t read it in bed – which is where I get most of my reading done – because I have a habit of dropping my book on my face when I fall asleep, and doing that with W&P would result in severe facial injuries (or at the very least a nasty shock).
Another distraction is the pile of mystery books I was given last week: I am currently also in the middle of The Penguin Book of Gaslight Crime, which is as much fun as it sounds, and once I’m finished with that I’ve got an anthology of detective stories to read, as well as Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks. All of these books draw me in and keep me breathlessly bound to them in a way that War and Peace is not doing, though I admit that the fault may lie with me rather than with Leo. I am so used to reading stories with a mystery that must be solved that I keep waiting for something to happen, some sort of denoumenent or revelation; and I can’t help feeling that all that will happen is that various people will get married and some of them will die, and it all will be a bit like real life, only…longer.
My sister recently emailed from somewhere on the Red Sea and said she’d given up on her current book because, in her words, “I was quite enjoying it, but all the characters had the same name and it always returned to describing war tactics”. Although she happened to be talking about One Hundred Years of Solitude, this is more or less exactly how I feel about War and Peace. I’m going to plough grimly on to the end, however, and will let you know if I experience a sudden change of heart, or if I find out whodunnit.