The story begins in the cold winter of 1812 in Moscow. The Napoleonic Wars are raging, but they haven’t reached the city yet. The characters are introduced: the young, lovely Natasha, recently engaged to Prince Andrey Bolkonsky, who is away fighting in the war; the loyal, good Sonya, Natasha’s cousin and best friend; Marya Dmitriyevna, a wealthy grand dame of Moscow and Natasha’s godmother; the handsome rake Anatole Kuragin and his sister, the devious, promiscuous Hélène; the dangerous Dolokhov, Anatole’s best friend; the cranky old Prince Bolkonsky, Andrey’s father, and his put-upon daughter, Mary; and the reckless, famous troika driver, Balaga (“Prologue”). Lastly, we meet Pierre Bezukhov himself, Hélène’s husband and Andrey’s best friend. Pierre is a wealthy, cultured aristocrat, utterly lost in an existential crisis. He spends his time shut in at home, drinking and philosophizing, idling his days away in depressed lethargy (“Pierre”).
Natasha and Sonya arrive at Marya
Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 guide sections