"nodding knowingly when someone mentioned, say, War and Peace"

War and Peace (1869) by the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy is another classic novel of the nineteenth century; its subject matter is the Napoleonic Invasion of Russia, and aristocratic life at this time.  Like Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, it is well known for its great length and detailed study of contemporary society.

War and Peace at Project Gutenberg