Saturday, June 25, 2011

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina tells of the doomed love affair between the sensuous and rebellious Anna and the dashing officer, Count Vronsky. Tragedy unfolds as Anna rejects her passionless marriage and must endure the hypocrisises of society. Set against a vast and richly textured canvas of nineteenth-century Russia, the novel's seven major characters create a dynamic imbalance, playing out the contrasts of city and country life and all the variations on love and family happiness. (from GoodReads)

Along with Gone With the Wind, my grandmother also suggested that I read Anna Karenina, which was a book she loved when she was younger. Since I really enjoyed Gone With the Wind, I thought I would give Anna Karenina a try. Though this book was just as long as Gone With the Wind, Anna Karenina was not quite as good.

I always feel bad if I don't completely love classic literature. I mean, there's a reason that this book is famous, right? But I have to remember that, like with books today, I'm not going to love every book that is considered a classic. I did like Anna Karenina. But it was just so slow and long that it made it a chore to read.

The book follows a lot of different characters and gives stories all from their points of view. Luckily for the reader, all the characters are inter-related and so their stories coincide. This made it easier to follow everything that was going on. Despite the fact that the book follows about seven or eight different people, only two are considered to be protagonists: Anna Karenina and Levin. Anna Karenina is, obviously, the adulturous wife who cannot seem to find happiness no matter what she does and Levin is a wealthy farmer who searches for the meaning of life and really wants a family. These two characters only come into contact once or twice but Levin's wife is Anna's brother's sister-in-law, so they are kind of related.

It's hard to explain the plot with so many different things happening, but at the core Anna Karenina is about Anna's illicit relationship with Count Vronsky. It was interesting to read about adultery in 19th century Russia, where somewhat of a double standard occurs (it's okay for a husband to cheat but not a wife). With this being a classic and all, there's a lot of symbolism and imagery, which I had to look on SparkNotes to really understand.

If you decide to read Anna Karenina, be warned that it is a huge undertaking. It's long and slow but still an interesting novel if you like books about history, relationships and Russia.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from library.

1873/Penguin Classics/817 pages.

1 comment:

We Heart YA said...

"I have to remember that, like with books today, I'm not going to love every book that is considered a classic."

Exactly! There are a TON of classics we don't like. And a TON that we do! What matters more, we think, is that you are open to reading them. :)

Great review. And really, 7 out of 10 isn't that bad.