by Chris Floyd
Dec. 23, 2007
You open the book, you turn the page, and once again you are in that familiar drawing-room, clutching your invitation to the soiree of Anna Pavlovna Scherer and being ushered over to pay your respects to her ancient, beribboned aunt. Then you take your long-accustomed place among the guests: the pert little Princess Bolkonsky with her needlework; the suave and repulsive Prince Vasily; the celebrity exile, Viscount Mortemart; and Princess Helene, whose astonishing yet deadening beauty gleams in the shining flesh of her bare shoulders and diamond-draped bosom…then at last to the fat, bumbling bear, the bastard Pierre Bezukhov, and his sworn friend, Prince Andrei, resplendent in his dry, sharp, angry gloom.
How many times have you been here, going back almost thirty years from your first entrance? A half a dozen, maybe more. Yet here you are again; and again, from the very first you are drawn back into that world that has lived inside you as vividly as your own life. And you know you will be there again through all twelve hundred pages; you have never yet stopped and walked away…