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Considered by many to the greatest novel ever written, Tolstoy's masterpiece is a story of family life set against the backdrop of war. The novel begins in 1805, in the crowded and gossip-filled rooms of a St Petersburg party, and follows the fortunes of the aristocratic Bolkonsky and Rostov families as Napoleon's armies sweep through Europe, culminating in the French invasion of Russia in 1812 and Napoleon's defeat. Tolstoy's vast novel takes in both the epic sweep of national events and the private experience of individuals, from the keen young soldier to Napoleon himself, and at the heart of it all, the complicated triangle of affection that binds his central characters.
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