The book starts off with a party hosted by Anna Pavlovna in St. Petersburg. The year is 1805. Her parties are known for gossip, and this particular one is filled with talk about the prospect of war. There is also talk about personal issues; Anna talks to her old friend Prince Vasili and praises his children – with the exception of Anatole, a rogue – especially his beautiful daughter Helene. In an effort to get his son to settle down, Vasili asks her to arrange a meeting between Anatole and a young woman, the daughter of Prince Bolkonski. Several more people arrive at the party: Vasili's daughter Helene, Lise, Bolkonski's daugther-in-law who is married to his son, Andrew, a military officer. Pierre, the awkward and unpolished illegitimate son of Count Bezukhov. He has just recently returned to Russia after studying abroad. Lise's husband Andrew arrives as well. Vasili promises a promotion to Boris, the only son of a well-connected but impoverished friend, Princess Anna Mikhaylovna Drubetskaya.
Following the party, Pierre visits Andrew Bolkonski at his house where they talk for a while. Andrew encourages Pierre not to marry because he says that it wastes a man's sense of purpose and resolve. Later, Pierre visits his friend Anatole, Prince Vasili's rogue son. The consequences of their foolish actions that night get Pierre informally banished from St. Petersburg for a time.
Anna Mikhaylovna, the mother of Boris, goes to Moscow to visit her wealthy relatives, the Rostovs. Natasha, the thirteen-year-old Rostov daughter appears accompanied by her brother, Nicolas, Boris, who is friends with Nicolas, and Sonya, Count Rostov's daughter. Nicolas proclaims that he is joining the army out of a sense of duty, rather than because of Boris going. Natasha hides to watch a tearful exchange between Nicolas and Sonya. He begs her forgiveness for flirting with one of the guests. When Boris comes in, Natasha seeks a kiss from him and he somewhat jokingly promises to marry her in four years.
There are 16 "parts" in War & Peace (basically just huge chapters), and anywhere from 5 to 20-something chapters within those. I plan to read one part over 2 to 3 weeks (3 if it's a super long one) and I read half of the first part this week. What I have to read each week is reasonable, and I'm thankful for that since the reading is pretty dense. I'm not sure if this is the format I'll keep using or come up with something else for next week. Maybe bullet points? I don't know. We'll see. I'll be back tomorrow to share the books to review for this month! Thanks for reading! xo, Ella