We see a Russian council of war, held largely through the perspective of a 6-year-old whose house they’d commandeered for the event, which was refreshing, considering all the adult philosophizing and strategizing I’d just had to plod through. Basically, as we’d already been told, they plan to abandon Moscow and retreat to save their army and ultimately (hopefully) save Russia.
Then we hear about how Moscow, like all the other abandoned towns, will be burnt, not by the French, who seem to be rather peaceful occupiers, but by the retreating Russians. Count Rostopchin is blamed for some of the panic. He is pegged as a person who did crazy, unexpected an contradictory things in order to secure his place in history–like ordering everyone to stay in the city, executing some people for no good reason, forbidding them to burn anything and keeping anyone from taking out carts of belongings and then burning down the city.
And then a switch. Helene has been busy despite the war. She’s had tons of affairs, and when two found out about each other she demanded them both to marry her–even though she’s already married to Pierre and by church and common law forbidden to remarry as long as her husband still lives, even if she divorces him. She’ll probably pull it off anyway. She’s also somehow under the illusion that Pierre loves her despite how they’ve treated each other. I guess because she just thinks everyone loves her. So as she’s working that out, Pierre is hanging out with the retreating troops, still horrified by what he’d seen and suffering some PTSD. He wishes he were just a normal soldier so he could experience some of that camaraderie and begins giving a fake name.
We are also told that Anatole has died, and I think that Andrew has died–but this is in the post battle rumor-mill, and Andrew has already been declared dead once, so we’ll just have to wait and see. I doubt he’s dead with so much of the book left–though I am closing in on the last 100 chapters. Maybe I’ll have a mini-party when I hit 265. 🙂