Andrei is in love, but his father is set against him marrying Natasha and insists on a long engagement to keep them apart. Natasha is overjoyed when Andrei proposes but shocked by his decision to delay the wedding and travel abroad for a year. She distracts herself by spending time on the Rostovs country estate, hunting and getting a taste of Moscow peasant life. But when the time comes to return to Moscow society, temptation crosses her path, and she finds her love for Andrei tested.
Nikolai's romance with the impoverished Sonya is also under pressure. Countess Rostova wishes her son to marry into wealth and has a new candidate in mind with a huge fortune behind her. Anna Mikhailovna is on the lookout for an heiress to marry Boris, too - although he is more concerned to move up in society. His unwitting patron is Pierre, who is growing steadily more depressed about his failure to find meaning in his life. Marya is unhappy too, when her father's behaviour takes a cruel turn for the worse.