War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy audiobook review – an ideal way in

Thandie Newton rises to the challenge of voicing scores of squabbling aristocrats in a new, unabridged recording

A determined reader can, it is said, power through Tolstoy’s mammoth tale of love and war in a week. But the audio version cannot be easily hurried, as narrators go at their own pace; that is, if you don’t cheat and crank up the speed. Clocking in at more than 60 hours in length, this rerecorded, unabridged version is not for the faint-hearted, but those able to put in the time will be rewarded.

War and Peace opens in St Petersburg in 1805 where there is handwringing in upper-class drawing rooms over the advance of Bonaparte. The narrator Thandiwe Newton rises to the challenge of voicing the scores of aristocrats who gossip and meddle in each other’s lives while bemoaning the state of Europe. Among the main players are Pierre Bezukhov, the illegitimate son of a count who wants a slice of his father’s riches; Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, who goes off to fight in the war; and Natasha, the beautiful daughter of a nobleman, with whom both men are enamoured.

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