Reading Groups

Tolstoy’s War & Peace


Led by: Sheila Kohler


Time: 6 - 7:30pm


Meets: Every other Tuesday, eight sessions 


Dates: Sept. 5, Sept. 19, Oct. 3, Oct. 17, Oct. 31, Nov. 14, Nov. 28, Dec. 12


*Sign Up:

Members: $175

Nonmembers: $200


This class is full and no longer accepting new students. 


Have you actually ever read all of Tolstoy' s War and Peace? Or did you read it so long ago it is a vague memory? Or did you just see the movie? I confess to reading the book for the first time this summer and could not put it down. I would love to read the book with a group of discerning readers and try to discover what keeps us turning these many pages through battle scenes and love scenes, descriptions of death, and life in all its splendor. Why do we laugh and cry with these characters: Pierre, Natasha, Princess Mary and the Prince Andrew just to mention a few? Why do we follow their destinies not just with our minds but our hearts?


If you are interested please buy the Norton edition with the Maude translation and many interesting essays, all of which has wonderful notes right on the page. We will divide the book into eight parts, discuss the historical background, Tolstoy's life, and above all do a close reading of this extraordinary text, which I hope you will discover anew or perhaps for the first time.


For the first meeting, participants should have read the first two books of War & Peace.


Sheila Kohler is the author of ten novels: The Perfect PlaceThe House on R Street, CracksChildren of PithiviersCrosswaysBluebird or the Invention of Happiness, Becoming Jane EyreLove ChildBay of the Foxes, and Dreaming for Freud. As well as three collections of short stories: Miracles in AmericaOne Girl, and Stories from Another World. Kohler has been awarded the O. Henry twice, the Open Voice Award, and the Smart Family Foundation prize, and The Willa Cather Prize judged by William Gass for One Girl, the Antioch Review Prize, and two stories have been included in Best American Short Stories. She was nominated for an Impac award. Sheila Kohler has taught creative writing at Bennington, City College, The Chenango Valley Conference at Colgate, Sarah Lawrence, The New School, SUNY Purchase, the West Side YMCA, and in Montolieu, France at Brooklyn College. She was a fellow at the New York Public Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers in 2003-4 and a visiting writer at the American Academy of Rome in 2012 and 2013. Her new memoir, Once We Were Sisters was published in January 2017. She has taught at Princeton for the past ten years.