Back in Petersburg, Helene is being wooed by two men. Oh, and she’s still married to Pierre, which could be awkward, except Helene has a special genius for dealing with this kind of drama.
Being a really good PR person, she gets ahead of the story and spins it her own way. Basically she makes it less about “Helene want to get a divorce” (a huge scandal back in the day), and makes it more about “Which of these two men will Helene marry?”
That’s pretty smooth.
The only one who doesn't buy into this spin is Marya Dmitrievna Akhrosimov (the lady whose house Natasha was staying in when she wanted to run off with Anatole). When she sees Helene at a ball, Marya tells her off.
Meanwhile, Helene’s dad, Prince Vassily, tells Helene that he’s totally behind her and is just happy she’s getting whatever her heart desires.
Helene’s friend Bilibin (the guy who’s always trying to be super-witty) kind of jokes his way out of the whole thing by saying that she should first marry the old guy, give him a few good years of fun, and then marry the young guy when the old one dies. Then he asks her how Pierre is going to feel about all this, to which Helene is all, oh he loves me so much that he’ll give me a divorce since that’s what I want.
Finally, Helene is confronted by mommy dearest. Her mother is jealous of her daughter and shows her the part of the Bible where divorce is clearly declared to be immoral. Helene starts to object, when suddenly her young foreign prince comes into the room. Princess Kuragin is such a starstruck snob that she immediately drops all the objections and gets with the Helene-remarriage program.
Helene writes a quick note to Pierre asking him for a divorce. It’s delivered to his house while he’s at Borodino.