I bought this more than a 3 years ago and have not been able to complete the story because of the narrator effeminate accent... Arrrghhh!
Humanitarian Aid Worker living in Central Asia.
I am trying to get through this audiobook, but honestly, I am having trouble keeping track of all the characters and some of the narrator's voices are annoying.
What can you say about a classic like this! The narrator though...So hard to understand that it makes it hard to get through this. On a book notorious for being this long, it's almost a "crime" to have someone like this narrate it. For that reason alone I would NOT suggest you get this!
Love to read, and Audible has made the two-hour daily commute enjoyable!
Tolstoy's huge tome constantly moves in three spheres, a plethora of characters and their families during the Napoleanic Wars both on the 1) battlefield and the 2) home front. The third sphere is a detailed look at the history of the era and his thoughts on freedom that are interspersed through out the book.
I learned more about the Napoleanic Wars than I had known - but I have to say that the discussion at the end about philosophy and freedom of choice made me weary. Overall, there are some glorious parts as Tolstoy covers the themes of War, Peace, Love, Betrayal, Revenge and God.
I was excited about this book because I loved "Anna Karenina", but this was just too much. By the end of the 60+ hours, I was ready to move on.
I was very disappointed in the performance. It's funny how some narrators do different voices and you don't even think about it. Davidson's older women sounded like Jonathan Winters in drag - that took me a bit to get over. In addition, the sound quality was atrocious - you could hear airplanes/machinery, pages turning, etc.
I might try it again in the future, but definitely either reading it, or with a different narrator.
Frederick Davidson's very plummy British accent took me time to warm to, but once I did I felt a genuine appreciation for his narrative skill. He engages the listener with different and distinctive character voices but succeeds in never compromising the gravitas of the work. Don't hesitate to use a credit on this great novel, very well told.
This story is hard to categorize. Is it fiction? Is it history? Is it a collection of essays on war and humanity? It has all three.
The first few hours are a lot of familial politics while the characters go from one party to another. This is an interesting look at upper class society for that period in Europe but it is not exactly action-packed.
Once our heroes get embroiled in the war the story picks up. There are even a few humorous scenes I particularly enjoyed. The latter third or so starts to drag. The ending leaves a lot unresolved, most of which is covered in the first two hours or so of the Epilogue. However, most of the Epilogue is an essay on war and I ended up skipping through it.
Apparently there are versions of the book with all the personal commentary moved to appendices. That probably cuts the book in half.
The history is fascinating but slanted. We know Napolean came from nothing and rose to rule one of one of the biggest empires in history. Tolstoy wants us to believe he was not a military genius, he just got lucky a lot. Also he makes many negative comments on Napolean's appearance and character.
What is also interesting is all that Tolstoy doesn't talk about. Peasants are barely mentioned, for example. Same with the church and clergy. I kept feeling there was a whole world out there we couldn't see because the author didn't find it interesting, or didn't think his audience would.
Considering Tolstoy was Russian, the original audience for the book were Russian aristocrats, and Tolstoy had his own strong views on religion, it's easy to see why he tells this version of history.
That aside, it's a worthy read. The narration was excellent, I gave an extra star for that. Considering you get 60 hours of audiobook for one credit, it's the best deal going.
Tolstoy uses the setting of the Napoleonic wars in Russia as the platform for a story heavy on philosophy, the philosophy of history and military history. Pierre is the heart and soul of the story and the sections about him are truly wonderful, such as the chapters covering his introduction to and induction into Russian freemasonry. Other characters are less well-developed, especially the female protagonist, Natasha, who tends to come across as silly and frivolous throughout most of the book. She is less of a character than a stand-in for what Tolstoy considers a sort of vital life-force, in contrast to the more thoughtful and broodingly introspective men around her. In fact, women in general tend to be fairly one-dimensional in this work.
Davidson's narration is quite dry and his foreign accents, especially French, and his rendition of women leave much to be desired, making this very long book seem even longer. This is one of those books I enjoyed more in print since that format allowed me to skim through the long sections on military strategy and philosophy of history and concentrate on the central story.
Maybe if I were hospitalized or incarcerated and had nothing else to do. It's certainly one of the great novels but jeez is it long.
The character sketches of Napoleon are so powerful and lifelike, I really felt what it was like to be in the presence of the brilliant Napoleon Bonaparte.
It should have been explained to the narrator that this novel is Russian, not British. The Russian soldiers and peasants have cockney accents, the Russian nobility sound like they are from the English countryside. The male characters sound like British Mr. Magoo's, the female characters sound like breathy ingénues. The narrator is very effeminate, British and langorous, but a competent reader. It takes a while to get past the narration. This is nevertheless a great novel and well worth reading.
Not a chance. This was one longgggg longggg book 60 hours long. That's 2 hours a day every day for a month.
I'm afraid I can't review the entirety of War and Peace because I simply can't get into it. I've tried starting at the beginning several times, I've started different chapters, but nowhere does it interest me in the slightest - not the characters, the setting, or the plot (which I confess my dipping in and out hasn't allowed me to grasp). I bought this tome because I thought of it as a book one 'ought' to read, and if it's one of the best known books of all time, it must at least be readable. For me it is not.
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I expected a lot more from this book. Utmost respect for the work done. But could have definitely made things a whole lot better.