This Book begins in 1809 as Prince Andrei begins to escape his grief as he recognizes that his life is not over at the age of 31. He notices Natasha for the first time, which is of note for future events. In Petersburg, Prince Andrei becomes involved in committees that oversee army regulations and the revision of the legal code.
In Chapter VII, Pierre is becoming increasingly disillusioned with Russian freemasonry and travels abroad in 1808 to look for inspiration. However, his proposals are not accepted by the Russian brotherhood. Pierre begins to live with his wife again for the sake of appearances. Consequently, H?l?ne gains a reputation as a lovely intelligent woman because of the success of her salons, which are peopled by those interested in a French alliance. Pierre is surprised at her success as he knows her to be stupid.
Chapter XI focuses on the Rostov family. Here, Berg proposes to the eldest daughter Vera and manipulates Count Rostov in order to receive an acceptable dowry for her. Berg says he will withdraw his offer if he is not told the specific amount the Count is going to pay him. Natasha meets her childhood sweetheart Boris, in Chapter XII, after a four year gap. She is no longer in love with him, but he is still attracted to her even though the purpose of his visit was to tell her to forget about their vows to each other. Natasha and Sonya then attend a ball to which the Tsar is expected. In Chapter XVI, Natasha and Prince Andrei dance. After the ball, Prince Andrei becomes a regular visitor at the Rostov home and is amazed at himself for spending so long on such useless work (on committees) and begins to believe in the possibility of happiness.
Berg and Vera throw a small party in Chapter XX and hope that everything was just as it was everywhere else and, thus, demonstrate their social pretensions. Pierre begins to notice a change in his friend, Prince Andrei, in this period. Prince Andrei confides in him that he loves Natasha and wants to marry her. He also tells his father, but he wants him to wait a year. When Prince Andrei proposes to Natasha in Chapter XXIII he also informs her that they will have to wait to marry.
This Book is of great interest for examining the plot development as it is here that Prince Andrei gradually realizes that he loves Natasha and proposes to her. The decision to wait a year is crucial to the outcome of their relationship. Ostensibly, it is enforced to please his father and it is also because of Natasha youthfulness.
The criticisms of upper class life continue in this section with the depiction of H?l?ne, Berg and Vera. Through these marginal figures, the vacuity and insincerity of social networks are exposed. Their pretensions to belong and desires to be accepted are demonstrated to have foundations on appearance only. Bergs successful persuasion of Count Rostov, to receive the dowry he requires, also exemplifies the transactional value of marriage: it is a business arrangement foremost rather than a twentieth/twenty first century love match.