Thursday, December 9, 2010

Anna Karenina

Some of you that have followed my blog for a while may have noticed that I was reading a certain book for a long time.  It stayed on my little bookshelf to the side of the blog...and stayed...and stayed.  Part of this was because it was a very large book...736 pages to be small print.  And part of it was because I was reading this book like you might sip a very fine wine.  A little bit at a time.  And then, like magic, last week it disappeared from my shelf.  That book was Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.  And I'm now getting around to writing a review of it.

Anna Karenina was originally published in installments gradually from 1873 through 1877.  Tolstoy considered this his first novel, even though War & Peace had been published in 1869...this is because Tolstoy considered War & Peace more than a novel.  There have been numerous critics that, after reading his work, consider Tolstoy the greatest novelist of all time.

The basic plot of this book surrounds Anna Karenina having an affair with Count Vronsky.  There are numerous other characters whose lives you learn much about...each having a very important role in how the story plays itself out.  A parallel to Anna's story is that of Konstantin Levin...which upon doing some research, appears to have been somewhat of a model after Tolstoy's own life.

While I was reading this book it seemed like everyone was saying to me, "You're reading Anna Karenina?  Why?  It's such a depressing book!"  With everyone telling me that, I wasn't surprised at the ending...I could kind of see it coming.  And for those of you who might still want to read it, I won't ruin it for you if you don't know.  Just please, don't get too attached to any one character...

As for my review of this book...I liked it.  I might not have if I had not known about the "depressing" part of it, but since I was braced for a let-down it didn't really surprise me.  Tolstoy is very descriptive and there were times when I really enjoyed it...and there were times I didn't.  For instance, there is a section of the book where Levin goes on and on about his farming techniques.  Not my favorite subject.  But, there are times when Tolstoy spends about three pages describing a location and what a character is thinking and feeling at the time.  You have no doubt as to what the surrounds the character and the mood they're's almost like you're transplanted into that time and place.  I would recommend this book, but I would also say to brace yourself for how it turns out.  While the writing style is well woven and the character development is intense, there is still sadness throughout.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe I'll give it a go one of these days. Great review though.



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