Okay, this one's mainly about Nikolai.
Turns out he spends a lot of time with Dolokhov while he is recuperating. Dolokhov's mother of course believes her son is a saint, while Pierre is the slouch who didn't take the blame for the bear incident and believes that he only challenged Fedya to a duel because he owed Pierre money, thinking that would deter him. Then this great turnaround of "but who doesn't have a lover anyway" and "why did he wait a year" train of thought that's quite funny.
Meanwhile Dolokhov (Fedya to his friends, mother, and hunchbacked sister) reveals alot to Nikolai, namely that people think he's a cad but that's only because he loves deeply and cares for a few who he'd fight for (Nikolai is of course included). Others he'd kill and not care (witness: policeman tied to bear and thrown in river). He also throws in that women are untrustworthy (oh-that old saw).
Everyone is kind of taken in by him, except for Natasha. She hates him, distrusts him, and tells Nikolai so. She even likes Denisov, saying he's a lush but likeable (maybe it's those dark mustaches). And she tells Nikolai that Dolokhov is in love with Sonya. 16 year old sweet Sonya, who Nikolai loves but is free from for the moment. Dolokhov looks at her in a way that makes anyone who sees it blush. Even Sonya notices. So Nikolai spends less time at home, preparing to go to battle in the Fall of 1806.
So, since the birth of the baby, we've skipped ahead 6 months.
Don't trust that DOlokhov, personally. I can't believe he's up to any good. Only a mother could. Or Nikolai I guess. Maybe he believes it himself.
The writing is superb, again, especially the great double back of Dolokhov's mother in her speech and the fire of Natasha. You just know she's the truthteller in the book. She may not be "our hero", I feel like that's Andrei, but she is the one we trust. She's teetering on young adulthood.
And for the rest of them, it's off again to war.
8 months ago