the guardian Fri 31 July 2009
One of my most memorable couts de théâtre was the nine-hour stage version of War and Peace I saw in London a couple of years ago, complete with battles, balls, bear hunts and 15 actors playing at least three parts each. It was brilliant. General Kutuzov would exit left after the Battle of Austerlitz and seconds later enter right as Pierre on his way to a masonic meeting. Naxos do both abridged (5hrs, £16.99) and unabridged (60hrs, £150) versions of the book, beautifully read by Neville Jason. But if you've never tackled Tolstoy before because you think it's too difficult, this 1997 award-winning radio adaptation is the easy way in. I was dazzled when I first heard it - and 12 years on, like vintage claret, it's even better.