Book Reviews · Reading Challenges · The Classics Club

Classics Club Challenge: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

151Summary: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 hypocrisies 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. While previous versions have softened the robust, and sometimes shocking, quality of Tolstoy’s writing, Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky have produced a translation true to his powerful voice. This award-winning team’s authoritative edition also includes an illuminating introduction and explanatory notes. Beautiful, vigorous, and eminently readable, this “Anna Karenina” will be the definitive text for generations to come.

I’m still processing my feelings about this book.  I started off absolutely loving it.  I loved the big mix of characters, multiple perspectives, and where the plot was going.  While Anna and Vronsky’s relationship escalates really quickly, I felt their connection, and the introduction of their passion seen from Kitty’s eyes was incredibly brilliant.  Anna is a very elusive character, and I find it interesting that the entire book is named for her when she is the character that I find to be the most mysterious.  However; all of the other characters are related through her, so it makes sense in that regard.  My thoughts about all of the characters changed over the course of the novel drastically.  I was so enamored with Anna at the beginning, but as the story went on, while I felt for the difficulty of her situation, her behavior was driving me nuts and I even found it hard to empathize with her and I felt bad for Vronsky as she crumbled.  My favorite characters ended up being Kitty and Levin, who I felt that we got to see and understand the most.  While I loved sweet Levin for most of the book, his whining towards the end started to annoy me.  I also enjoyed Anna’s sister in law, Dolly’s, character and the juxtaposition her relationship with her cheating husband posed with Anna’s infidelity.  The double standard with men and women is super apparent in this time period in society, and the use of the Oblonksy siblings as an example of this was brilliant.  About halfway through, the story started to lose me and became a bit of a chore to finish.  This book is so long.  It was easier to read than I had anticipated, and don’t get me wrong, I did like most of it, but I was left with a bit of a “blah” taste in my mouth.  I feel like you could probably cut half of it, preferably all of the parts about Russian farming and some of the Russian politics that were over my head, without losing any of the plot.  The ending was a little strange, and I would have liked to have felt a better sense of closure with all of the characters, but I guess that feeling is part of the tragedy of the story.  I definitely feel a sense of accomplishment for having finally finished this book that I have had on my list forEVER and overall really enjoyed the experience.

4 thoughts on “Classics Club Challenge: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

  1. “I definitely feel a sense of accomplishment for having finally finished this book…” I feel you on this one because I had the same feeling when I finished the book. Haha


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