Okay, re-read the first 3 chapters before doing 7, 8 and 9 because I have more of a handle on who everyone is now so here’s some thoughts:
Chapter 1 - still not really sure of Pavlovna’s age here. I didn’t see anything about her having a son and in fact in Chapter 7 we discover she has never been married. ‘Old Maid’ seems like the sort of term that might be used as exaggeration. That said, I see they cast Gillian Anderson as her. Given how much more stretched our lives are she is probably playing younger than she is but roughly seen the same way, as middle-aged?
Chapter 2 - okay, well this is another chapter of the book I’ve realised where I had zero paragraph breaks but I guess because it was only chapter two I just bulldozed through and didn’t realise it was a formatting error. This in part explains why I found it so hard to make sense of and probably why I missed Pierre’s bloody illegitimacy @hip_young_gunslinger. That, and the fact that his introduction is so stretched out that by the time you know he’s called Pierre you’ve forgotten what all the opening description was and if it’s actually about him!
Chapter 3 - Tolstoy belabours his simile of the Vicomte being like good food, doesn’t he?
Anna Pavlovna was obviously serving him up as a treat to her guests. As a clever maitre d’hotel serves up as a specially choice delicacy a piece of meat that no one who had seen it in the kitchen would have cared to eat, so Anna Pavlovna served up to her guests, first the vicomte and then the abbe, as peculiarly choice morsels.
That’s when he is first about to talk about the Duc then we have a lot of talk about him going to tell his tale and being a raconteur and finally we have this:
and the vicomte was served up to the company in the choicest and most advantageous style, like a well-garnished joint of roast beef on a hot dish.
before we get…well so much fucking preamble before the story about the Duc. Who could fail to feel the anticlimax when it’s finally told!
later in Chapter 7 we had this:
“a winning and piteous look of fear.”
What the hell form of ‘winning’ is this?
Anyway, now in Chapter 8 we have the mystery of why Prince Andrew/Andre doesn’t like his wife any more. Or do we? I mean it’s hard to know if what he said is just meant to be enough for a patriarchal 19th century novel, that a man just wishes he were a bachelor. This is PG Wodehouse territory again, with Wooster always desperate not to get tied down by a wife.
But obviously I feel like there’s some kind of dark secret here. Seems like he’s become convinced the child isn’t his to me, but that he refuses to actually say anything explicit because of ‘reasons’.
Chapter 9 is sort of the classic old book chapter that doesn’t really interest me, full of dialogue that I can’t easily imagine being spoken (all those "Eh?"s) and a sort of weird machismo/honour situation going on where I am unclear if I should take at face value and assume the start of the 19th C was a different time, or if I should read it as an intentionally absurd satire on what the rich of the time were like.
Either way I am sad no one fell to their death but it was at least a bit tense for a while. Not because I hate the characters just because it would have laid out some big stuff early on for the story to work with.