Sunday, January 20, 2019

Review: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Title: Anna Karenina
Author: Leo Tolstoy
Published: August 2004, Barnes & Noble (first published April 1877)
Format: Hardcover, Barnes & Noble Classics Series, 803 pages
Source: Personal copy

Married to a powerful government minister, Anna Karenina is a beautiful woman who falls deeply in love with a wealthy army officer, the elegant Count Vronsky. Desperate to find truth and meaning in her life, she rashly defies the conventions of Russian society and leaves her husband and son to live with her lover. Condemned and ostracized by her peers and prone to fits of jealousy that alienate Vronsky, Anna finds herself unable to escape an increasingly hopeless situation.

Set against this tragic affair is the story of Konstantin Levin, a melancholy landowner whom Tolstoy based largely on himself. While Anna looks for happiness through love, Levin embarks on his own search for spiritual fulfillment through marriage, family, and hard work. Surrounding these two central plot threads are dozens of characters whom Tolstoy seamlessly weaves together, creating a breathtaking tapestry of nineteenth-century Russian society.

From its famous opening sentence—"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”—to its stunningly tragic conclusion, this enduring tale of marriage and adultery plumbs the very depths of the human soul.

My thoughts:  There are so many classics that I remember reading in high school and college that I have wanted to reread again as an adult and there are some that I have never read - and Anna Karenina is one that falls into the latter category. I don't know why I never read it, but it's always a book I've wanted to read, so much so that I've had it sitting on my shelf for years. 

I was thrilled when I saw Whitney over at the @UnreadShelf hosting a BuddyRead for Anna Karenina during the months of November and December of last year. I knew that this was definitely a way that would entice me to read this book - breaking it down into smaller chunks and having little discussions throughout the reading of the book...and it was just the motivation I needed!

I ended up enjoying this book a lot. It's not an easy read by any means, and once I got into a groove, I really enjoyed the story. It's a book about family relationships and while this book was written back in the late 1800s, it's characters are so life-like and dealing with issues that are really not necessarily restricted to their time. The writing is so vivid and life-like, and having it written in the third-person allows you to really get to know each and every one of the characters in the very best way. 

This book is definitely one that will sit on my shelf and who knows, maybe I will read it again, or maybe one day I will listen to it - I hear that the narration by Maggie Gyllenhaal is fabulous. But I do know that now that I have read the book, I will most definitely be watching the movie...and I think I want to watch the version with Keira that the best version to watch?


1 comment

  1. I read this book a few years ago. Like you, no one made me.

    Also like you, I felt that this book is about family relationships and is lifelike. But I don't describe it like that. I call it soap opera-ish.

    Therefore, although the book is on my bookshelf, I can't say that I loved it like you do.


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