Monday, January 6, 2014

Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, 894 pages

Anna Karenina is the story of Russia's upper crust in the early 1900s. The titular character is a beautiful woman, bored in her loveless marriage, who attracts the loving attention of military bachelor Vronsky and manages to screw up a whole bunch of lives in the process, including those of her husband, son, Vronsky, her sister-in-law, a man named Levin (who, to me, was the most likeable, identifiable character in this book), and, of course, herself. She runs off to Europe with Vronsky and figures out that, despite the sheen of love, everything's not all it's cracked up to be. And, well, I won't spoil it for you, but there's a reason this isn't on anybody's "funniest books of all time" list.

Anna Karenina had been on my to-read list for ages, thanks to Jasper Fforde's hilarious, literary-in-joke-filled Thursday Next series (this is the same series that caused me to read Jane Eyre and Rebecca, and also made me put Wuthering Heights and Great Expectations on my reading list). For that reason and the aformentioned hilarity, I highly recommend Fforde's books.

But Anna Karenina? Read it or don't. Despite the ridiculous number of long Russian names, it wasn't as hard to slog through as I thought it would be, which was nice. I can also say that I enjoyed some of the characters Tolstoy created, as well as the general Downton Abbey-in-Russia feel of the novel. I wasn't a huge fan of the AGES Tolstoy spent discussing labor and farming, or the philosophical, religious stuff. I feel good that I can honestly say that I've read it, though it didn't change my life in any way (other than completely hosing my December book blog stats, anyway).

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