The novel War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy is set in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1805. Later in the novel, the setting changes to Moscow, in 1806 and on. The story follows five noble families and their fates throughout the Napoleonic wars. The families are the Bezukhovs, the Rostovs, the Bolkonskys, the Kuragins, and the Drubetskoys. Volume I begins at a party to celebrate the illegitimate child Pierre Bezukhov. When Pierre's father dies, he struggles to claim an inheritance, because he is illegitimate. The rest of the volume involves a battle in Austria against the French, where new characters are introduced.
Volume II begins after the battle, at a time when France and Russia are held at a temporary truce. Many of the war heroes and other characters fall in love, and it centers around their attempts to all be together.
Volume III happens when France and Russia are no longer in a truce, and are at war once again. The families are all distraught and upheaved from their homes, because the French are marching into Moscow.
Volume IV is the last volume, and involved the most death of more main characters than any of the other volumes. In the end things are not completely resolved, and Tolstoy includes an epilogue that relates the individuals and history, and reflects on the story in general.
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Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace (1869) is one of the longest and probably the greatest novels ever written and incorporates 1225 pages and is divided into four volumes, each consisting of several chapters. It is a story of Russia and of five aristocratic Russian families through the periods of war and peace. It is also the story of the main protagonist, Pierre Bezukhov, as he matures and finds his own peace.
The story involves several characters, chief among them are Count Pyotr Kirillovich (Pierre) Bezukhov, Nikolay Rostov and Prince Andrey Bolkonsky; they are friends and closely related through marriage (towards the end of story). The novel describes how the French invasion of Russia through the first two decades of the nineteenth century affects the lives of these men. Nikolay joins hussars, gains the love and affection of his family and his affectionate cousin; comes back after Moscow's loss. Prince Andrey leaves his wife and joins the war, is betrothed to Natasha (Nikolay's sister), but returns mortally wounded. The main protagonist, Pierre, returns to Moscow after getting an education in France and is clueless about life and his own goals. At the beginning of the story, he's very fond of Napoleon; marries but remains unsatisfied and empty, joins the Freemasons but loses interest in them as well; watches the war's carnage and decides to assassinate Napoleon but gets caught and is freed by a retreating french army; marries Natasha and finally finds love and peace.
This is a story of how the internal war within Pierre ends and how he attains peace, as well as a story of how people and families in Russia are affected by these periods of war and peace.