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 Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (c. 1877)

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PostSubject: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (c. 1877)   Sun 01 Feb 2009, 1:36 pm

This is a book I've been meaning to read for many years, so was glad it popped upon the 1001 list (I subsequently learned that Oprah picked it as well at some point ~ 2004?). I took it on my beach trip and had a hard time putting it down ... so far, it is excellent. Wow, tons of drama in this one! Review to follow.




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PostSubject: Review of Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy   Wed 11 Feb 2009, 8:57 am

Review of Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Having felt compelled to read this as it is many people's "best of all times" (including the 1001 Books You Should Read Before You Die list), I plugged away for two weeks. The beginning started strong, but overall, I really do not see the draw. While it is certainly ambitious in scope (touches on every facet of then "modern day" life in Russia late 1800s, politics, philosphy, lots of religion, family structure, divorce, agriculture, bird hunting and social criticism/hypocrisy), I felt none of the areas held my attention. Tolstoy is King of Tangent, mostly to spout his views on various subjects (mostly religion and a sort of morality over reason mindset), and at times this novel was such a chore. But I'm a tenatious reader and ususally, if I've invested much of my time in it, I'll finish, just to be able to really assess it. The second half of this book was all work and no play. The most surprising thing about Anna Karenina though is Anna herself. I had always heard she was a most esteemed female character, before her time, interesting, strong, etc. Well, she is a deranged opium addict and very whiny, privileged woman who destroys everything and everyone around her to get what she wants ... and she never even really knows WHAT she wants, only that she usually does not once she has it. She was just not interesting or likeable enough to carry such a big novel. Even her final descent into madness is really rather boring to read about. Her children were the saddest victims of her whims. But surprisingly, she is not the central character. We follow the lives of Levin and his brothers, Kitty, Dolly, Oblonsky, Anna's husband Karenin and of course, Anna's lover, Vronsky (easily as unlikeable as she is). Mostly though, we traverse the up/down, swirling mindsets of the Anna/Vronsky affair (as it affects them and others) and Levin's journey to find meaning in life.

2 stars out of 5

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Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (c. 1877)
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