Epic novel War and Peace has been transformed into its most watchable adaptation to date – and you can be among the first to see it on BBC First coming soon 2016.
Leo Tolstoy’s beast of a book – one of the longest novels ever written – has been given the star-studded BBC treatment, offering a fresh twist with the help of some of the world’s best up-and-coming actors (and giving you another excuse not to read it quite yet).
Adapted by Andrew Davies, the man who reimagined Pride and Prejudice and Bleak House, it stars Downton Abbey’s Lily James as heroine Natasha Rostova, Paul Dano (There Will be Blood, 12 Years a Slave) as Pierre Bezukhov, and James Norton (Happy Valley, Death Comes to Pemberley) as Prince Andrei Bolkonsky.
If you’re unfamiliar with the story (got a pristine copy on a shelf somewhere that you’re planning to read when you’ve got a spare month or two?), you’re not alone.
That’s why we’ve put together a quick cheatsheet about the book.
What’s it about in one sentence?
Five Russian aristocratic families mixing in the finest circles of the early 1800s become embroiled in personal entanglements that threaten to disrupt their privileged world.
So why is it so long?
It manages to squeeze in not just the highs and lows of the five families, but also key historical events and figures of the era. Even Napoleon puts in an appearance.
How many people have really read it?
With more than 36 million copies sold worldwide, you’d wager many millions more have ticked it off their must-read bucket list.
Okay, so it turns out War and Peace is one of the most lied-about books in the world.
It ranks second behind 1984 in the top 10 novels people pretend to have read when they haven’t.
Whether you really have read it, you’re new to the story, or you’re one of the fibbers who’s claimed to have made it to the end, the new TV adaptation will give you a concentrated dose of Tolstoy’s finest dram, without having to dedicate days to reading it.
War and Peace premieres on Foxtel on BBC First in 2016.