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Saturday, October 5, 2013

13 of 1001 Books: Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina

I'm still puzzling why this is called Anna Karenina despite it just being a character in the book. I suppose she was the connecting character for all that took place, but it just seemed there could have been a more insightful title. Anyways, I had been really wanting to read Tolstoy, and this was my first stop. Stop parts were great, some were boring, and some I wasn't even sure why it was in the book. I mean get it is significant to the development, but the prose is well long winded. I've got to say I'm one who does fall for a tragic romance though.

Summary: The book opens with Kitty, Levin, and Vronsky. Kitty must choose between the two men, but feels a more secure future with Vronsky. Her wrong choice leads to heartache and uncertainty, and Levin is embarrassingly now keeping his distance after the rejection of her love. Vronsky though has fallen for Anna, who is married. Anna though will not let that even stop her and the two work to try to see each other as if they are any other normal couple around her marriage. Levin and Kitty continue to try to forge a bond, but as one relationship grows into something beautiful one will die.


Characters: Tolstoy has made quite a great cast of characters. Their personalities are unique and very well defined. While Kitty has her unlikable moments I think she was my favorite of the group. She brings hurt on other people, but she also seems to be someone who is sweet and can go with the flow of things if need be. I also did like Levin, and thought the ending regarding his faith was beautifully done. Tolstoy explores faith in one of the realest ways through Levin about a man apart from faith and seeking it after his encounter with death. It's just very real. Then there is Anna, which is a well-written character who you just want to know more about. She seems so sad, and even when finding what might be real love she still seems so discontent. Vronsky is unlikable, and none of the other characters outside of Anna seem to like him much either. He is very self centered.

Writing: The writing is good and emotional in some parts, but I felt at times maybe too descriptive for what I enjoy. There are pages upon pages about Levin with the peasants, or Vronsky at a political gathering that just did not fascinate me. While I garner the importance of those events because they reflect upon social and political changes at the time for Russia it was not the most fascinating of passages to read. I've got to say whenever Anna or Vronksy, or Levin and Kitty were in a scene though together it does bring new life to the whole book.

Plot: The plot flows well and it does develop nicely, but it feels like you've traveled a lifetime to get there. It took me like 2 weeks I think to really make it through this book, which is a long time for me. If I could have cut out parts that veered from the romance or the faith development I would've. I found the interaction between Levin and his brother even interesting. It's just a huge novel and you might need an interest in Russian history to really dive in.

Anna Karenina makes for an interesting. There were parts I found startling or romantic, and others that were putting me to sleep. The language is beautiful but very tiring because it takes several pages it seems to make a point sometimes. Tolstoy though shows that you don't need to write Amish romance fiction to explore faith though, and that having real characters with real flaws makes the experience of growth a lot deeper.

Rating 6 of 10.


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