Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Published by Wordsworth Editions
Published 5 October 1995 (first published 1877)
This is the second book for my challenge to read four classic novels this year. As this will likely take me the longest and be the hardest to get through, I’ve decided to tackle it sooner rather than later. Someone told me once to get through a book like this by reading 50 pages a day so that’s what I did.
WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT
Anna Karenina is one of the most loved and memorable heroines of literature. Her overwhelming charm dominates a novel of unparalleled richness and density.
Tolstoy considered this book to be his first real attempt at a novel form, and it addresses the very nature of society at all levels – of destiny, death, human relationships and the irreconcilable contradictions of existence. It ends tragically, and there is much that evokes despair, yet set beside this is an abounding joy in life’s many ephemeral pleasures, and a profusion of comic relief.
ALL HAPPY FAMILIES resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
WHAT I THOUGHT
I really enjoyed Anna Karenina. This was a pleasant surprise considering I was dreading reading this book, a book I have long perceived as hard and boring. I found it the opposite. I did try and read it one before when I got a bunch of free e-book’s from Amazon. Anna Karenina is the kind of novel that does not work as a free, badly formatted ebook and I found it almost unreadable. I stuck to my rule of reading 50 pages a day and found myself reading enjoying the book. Despite the title, the book is not all about Anna; her story probably covers 50% of the weighty tome. Anna Karenina is about Russian High Society, the scandal caused by Anna’s affair with Vronsky and Anna’s downward spiral, likely a result of guilt and the fact she is seen as a fallen woman, scorned to an extent by the society she is part of. Tolstoy offers nothing new about passion or forbidden love but Anna Karenina is so enjoyable this hardly matters. I loved the rich details about the society Anna and the other characters lived in. I thought the characters were spot on. I would have given this book 5/5 if not for Tolstoy’s dense prose which was sometimes a bit of a slog to get through. I enjoyed Anna Karenina much more than expected and would recommend it.