“Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy ★★★

Anna Karenina

Well, I now have the bragging rights that I survived the reading experience of this one.

Good story but waaaaaaaaay too long.  It started off interesting as we come to know the main players, The Karenins, Levin, Kitty, Count Vronsky; and begin to see the sometimes negative results of poor choices made because of passion.

He felt that the love that bound him to Anna was not a momentary impulse, which would pass, as worldly intrigues do pass, leaving no other traces in the life of either but pleasant or unpleasant memories.  He felt that all the torture of his own and her position, all the difficulty there was for them, conspicuous as they were in the eye of all the world, in concealing their love, in lying and deceiving; and in lying, deceiving, feigning, and continually thinking of others, when the passion that united them was so intense that they were both oblivious of everything else but their love.

Yeah, that could be the start of the problem…

My take on this novel was that it was a study on those choices, especially in the age in which the book was written, as well as delving into politics (the benefits vs. criticisms of socialist government), religion, depression, jealousy, revenge.  There was SO much drama, so much whining.  So much time spent around dinner tables and listening to debates about all of the above.  I’d say nearly 700 of the 900+ pages were monotonous.

Within the last few chapters it started to pick up again–oh! something interesting–but then, oh, back to the boring stuff again.  I admittedly am not a literary genius so take my advice with a grain of salt, but I suggest watching the movie instead.  (I rarely say that.  I think the only other time I’ve said that was for The Time Traveler’s Wife where I liked how some of the characters were portrayed better in the movie than in the book.)

This story just took too long to tell, and I am now very hesitant to start another Russian novel any time soon.  My apologies to those who loved it.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

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