So, I bought War and Peace in 2009 after deciding it was just one of those things you 'have' to read in your lifetime. I got about 10 pages in and decided that it was going to take way too much time and it's not the kind of book you can read now and then on the train on the way to university or in between reading other books. I relegated it to my 'summer reading' list, where I'd mentally placed all the books that I wanted to read once uni was over and I had more time on my hands and wasn't stressed as hell over a dissertation.
I started reading it again recently and although I try not to talk about or give my opinion on books until I've finished them, I will actually say (only 350 tracing paper pages in) that no wonder it's such a cult classic. I always thought it would be really 'hard' to read, in that I wouldn't understand the language, the translation or that it would be my 'kind of thing'. Which is quite true, I am more of a whimsical Calvino/Murakami/Borges kind of girl, myself. And although it has something like over 500 characters in the whole volume (which is absolutely massive - a man laughed at me on the train because of it) once you get into it and start remembering who the characters are, or making the connections between them, it's quite clear that's it's one brilliant piece of writing. I nearly always feel that, in contemporary writing, there are too many over using marvelous literary devices to stand out, or make their writing more interesting, and that the effect it tends to have is, that far from coming off as slightly skewed from the norm, unique writing, it ends up being overly academic, and as though the writer tried to cram in every single device he or she could think of (Cloud Atlas is the epitome of this). War and Peace is never like that. It never feels forced, it's in depth without boring you, the characters descriptions and little quirks are flawless and even though it's probably classed as a historical novel, the combination of romance and other sub genres in it make it so interesting and good to read. It's so descriptive that it genuinely reminds me of watching a film unfold before you, the details are impeccable.
Anyway, I'm not even half way through and may completely change my mind and abhor it, but right now I suggest everyone read it because I'm loving it, even if it is making my handbags break from carrying it around.