“Nothing is so necessary for a young man as the company of intelligent women.” ― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
Full disclosure - my copy of Tolstoy's Russian classic remains incomplete (I'm still reading), so this recommendation comes from the first 109 pages, (for reference my Penguin Classic copy has 1358 pages excluding the notes).
War and Peace had never been of an immediate reading concern. I had a full shelf of unread classics before I reached for War and Peace.
But with the introduction of forced isolation, in reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Russian classic became the novel to conquer! My friend (and her dog) gifted me a copy and I have the achievable goal of finishing this epic by the end of the year.
What a power move, to sashay into the office post 'lockdown' 1.5 meters from anyone, carrying your Leo Tolstoy in one hand and your hand sanitizer in the other.
Beside it's density, it is far from a difficult read.
The story follows members of the Russian aristocracy, Tsarist society, during the French invasion of Russia during the Napoleonic era of the early 1800s. You receive an invitation into the indulgent and extravagant soirees, boudoirs and conversations of Russian society.
The plot moves at a consent pace, weaving through palaces and battle fields, collecting marriage proposals and inheriting titles.
I do recommend watching a film adaption or mini series prior to reading. It will help with remembering character's names. Russian surnames are of such superior making the effort to remember which character is which, it may detract from the story.
The BBC 2016 mini series is worth it! Although void of any actual Russian and completely Anglofied, it will provide a productive stepping stone into the Russian aristocracy that consumes the pages of this novel. Also it's a semi sophisticated response to the dreaded 'Have you been watching any 'series' recently?', you can hit them with your mighty BBC War & Peace!!! response, and watch them regret they had ever brought up Tiger King in your presence!
And if one day in the not too distant future you turn the final page to find it was not worth passing page 109, I apologise.