War & Peace - Part 2

Written by:
Leo Tolstoy
Narrated by:
Edward Petherbridge

Abridged Audiobook

Release Date
May 2017
2 hours 23 minutes
In the second half of Tolstoy's masterly novel War and Peace, Napoleon's dramatic military invasion of Russia seems to overwhelm the private lives of all the characters. But it is precisely these private lives which in the end survive the clash of armies and emperors. Tolstoy sets out to show that however momentous the events of history, it is the finer details of day-to-day existence, encompassing joys, sorrows and surprises, that engage and fascinate the reader and provide the book's narrative power.
1. DISILLUSIONMENT. When his Freemason mentor dies, Pierre reverts to his old ways. In Moscow, he is welcomed as a generous, kind eccentric, but he still feels life is futile. At the opera, the beauty of Natasha and Sonya attracts much attention. Pierre is pleased to meet Natasha there but she is taken with the dashing Anatole Kuragin. He, in turn, is struck by her beauty and he charms her with his conversation. Later, he tells his friend Dolohov of his desire for her. Dolohov, who knows Anatole is secretly married already, warns him off.

2. DANGEROUS LIAISON. At a ball given by Ellen Bezuhov, Anatole dances with Natasha and says he loves her. Natasha returns home bewildered, unable to choose between Andrey and Anatole. She tells Sonya, who is horrified, then breaks off her engagement to Andrey. After long hesitation, Sonya decides to inform others in the family and Pierre is summoned. Stunned, he hears the news about Natasha, whom he secretly adores.

3. REPENTANCE TOO LATE. Pierre tells Natasha that she cannot marry Anatole and confirms that he is married already. After delivering his message, Pierre goes to Ellen's house. Anatole is there and Pierre castigates him for his immoral behaviour. Anatole swiftly leaves Moscow. Meanwhile, Natasha tries to poison herself but is unsuccessful. Pierre calls on Prince Andrey, who has recently returned to Russia, and is surprised to find him icily cold about Natasha, whose letters he wishes to return. Natasha is overcome with remorse at her actions and is touched by Pierre's friendship. As Pierre later drives exaltedly through Moscow, he looks at the night sky and there sees a bright comet. To him, it seems a joyful rather than ominous portent for the year 181


4. INVASION. As the French invade Russia, rumours fill Moscow. Nearby, at Borodino, the Russian and French armies engage and both sides suffer appalling losses. Among the seriously wounded is Prince Andrey. He is taken to a hospital tent and operated on. Later, as he comes round, he recalls the happiest moment of his early life. He recognizes Anatole Kuragin as the man next to him who is having his leg amputated. Remembering Natasha, a wave of tenderness for all humanity sweeps over Andrey. Outside, the terrible battle grinds on, while in distant Petersburg. Ellen is concerned only with getting a divorce from Pierre, whom she thinks still loves her.

5. REUNION. In Moscow, the Rostovs pack hurriedly in preparation for fleeing the city. Among the train of evacuees, Sonya notices a carriage carrying the wounded Prince Andrey, but she agrees with Countess Rostov not to tell Natasha. The Rostov family leaves and Moscow is abandoned to the invading French army - and to the fire which breaks out and destroys most of the city. On their first night, Natasha learns that Andrey is nearby and slips out to his quarters. There she is reconciled with him and takes over nursing him, helped by Sonya. Far to the north, Ellen Bezuhov becomes mysteriously ill and dies suddenly from an overdose of the drugs prescribed to her.

6. LOVE AMID WAR. Nikolay Rostov is sent to Voronezh to find new horses for his regiment and so misses the worst of the fighting. There, he sees Princess Marya, grieving because she fears her brother is dead. Nikolay, impressed by her spiritual air, reassures her and begins to regret his engagement to the penniless Sonya. Soon after, he receives a letter from her, releasing him from his promise to marry her. His mother also sends news of Andrey, which he passes on to Marya. He escorts her towards Yaroslavl and wins her affection. At Yaroslavl, Marya meets Natasha again.

7. A HERO'S DEATH. Marya and Natasha are united in their shared grief. They enter the room where Prince Andrey is dying. Marya is oppressed by the cold, hostile way he greets them, unaware that it is a form of religious calm caused by the knowledge that he is dying. His last hours pass peacefully and his death touches them all, but for differing reasons. Marya and Natasha weep in awe at the mystery of death.

8. LOVE DECLARED. In Moscow, Pierre calls on Princess Marya. In the low-lit room, Pierre fails to recognize her companion as Natasha, so changed is she by her experiences. At dinner, they agree that the war has transformed their lives for the better. After Pierre leaves, Natasha and Marya realize why Andrey was so fond of him. Pierre decides, that same night, that he must marry Natasha. The next evening, he calls again on Marya, and pours out his heart to her. She advises him to go to Petersburg and leave matters to her. Natasha, understanding his intentions, is overjoyed.
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