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Farewell, Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina* May Contain Spoilers

Hooray, I finished Anna Karenina! It was a mother of a book and took some Herculean effort in the home stretch (i.e. Part 8 which I don’t recommend you read at 1 a.m.), but I DID IT, BABY and feel like I should get ANNA KARENINA tattooed across on my chest.

All bravado aside, Anna Karenina truly is an epic novel and I loved it. I did try to slow down a little and enjoy the book’s brilliance. I almost didn’t want the story to be over. But as they say, all good things must end … and they do, badly.

Why You Should Read This Book

Anna Karenina was my first Tolstoy and I’m completely enamoured with his writing (I heard some weird things about him, so just going with that for now). The guides on writing a book review said I should summarize the plot. I’m not going to do that. Instead you may be interested to learn how Anna Karenina contains all the dramatic essentials you could possibly want:

  • Family story with the right amount of trashy drama (affairs, addictions, secrets, domestic struggles)
  • Beautiful people who are rich or with money woes
  • Glamourous events and sophisticated locations
  • Both passionate stars-collide romance and love cooked low and slow

Tolstoy injects into the story politics, religion, social and cultural questions, and let’s not forget the infamous musing on farming. Sometimes he will hit you over the head with it. You just can’t miss the pages and pages on the Slavonic Question. Other times, he’s more subtle and when characters argue about the role of women in society at dinner, I tried to pay attention and not have wandering thoughts like “What the heck is a barely perceptible smile?”

The Characters

Overall, I liked many of the main characters and we get to know their thoughts and feelings intimately (other bloggers called this “inner monologues”). I really do believe we love this book because we can see ourselves in Tolstoy’s characters.

If I were to choose one character it would be Levin because he is a total nerd. He sounds like a pain in the ass and someone you would regret bringing to a party because he’s socially awkward and would embarrass you every time he opened his mouth. But he has a good heart, and is a responsible and stand-up guy. Some of his bumbling is actually cute and endearing.

As for Anna … wow, a total hot mess. I think we hate her for being a stupid, silly bitch because she could be any of us. Nice girls fall for the wrong guy all the time and go psycho. Imagine gambling on love and losing, AND being a social pariah and in domestic limbo. Yes, it’s her own damn fault but I did feel empathy for Anna. What kills it for me is how she so easily abandoned her children. Unforgiveable.

The fatal train scene I won’t ever be able to get out of my head. To be so completely lost and end it with a brutal, punishing death is heartbreaking. You don’t expect violence from the feminine world of lace and little red purses. She didn’t just end her life, she obliterated it.

What does it all mean?

Wasn’t asking that question Levin’s favourite form of torture? I think his answer was we choose to live because we are going to die. It’s a fact, Jack. I believe Tolstoy’s moral of the story is that there are no right or wrong choices in pursuing happiness. What’s most important are the consequences of your choice.

Now choose life, so that you and your children may live

Now choose life, so that you and your children may live

 

If you read the book, let me know what you think.

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2 comments on “Farewell, Anna Karenina

  1. artmoscow
    January 14, 2013

    What makes Tolstoy a great artist is that his books can’t be reduced to a single moral ))

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      January 20, 2013

      Sorry I missed your comments. I absolutely agree with you, but wanted to keep my post short. Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

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This entry was posted on January 7, 2013 by in Anna Karenina, Reviews and tagged , .

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