It is one of the longest novels ever written, containing intricate philosophical musings about love, war and the complex relationships between aristocratic families.
“These people are just like us; their emotions are so recognisable. The characters are so natural and human and easy to identify with and Natasha Rostova just beats Lizzy Bennet as the most lovable heroine in literature.
“In a way, I think it will be quite manageable, because quite a lot of the book is taken up with Tolstoy’s theories on history and his account of why Napoleon was defeated in the Russian campaign.
“But at the heart of the book, it is a story of four families and the interaction between them, with certain characters we get to care about and love very much.
“It’s a very intimate story, despite the fact it involves armies of thousands.
“People found the book so enormous. This will be a way of doing it.”
Describing the interaction between the central families as “so true to life”, he suggested that a faithful reproduction of Tolstoy’s work would attract popular audiences without the need to "dumb it down".
He joked the interaction between characters and families would be “very familiar” to fans of soap EastEnders, but with “not so much yelling and nobody on the dole.”
The original 1869 story, which stretches to 1,225 pages long, already portrays children rebelling against their parents, fathers struggling with pride and a young heroine who chooses the “wrong bloke”.
“It’s all there,” he said.