I was not quite sure how many stars I should give this book. It is one of those novels, praised by critics and beloved by many avid book readers, that...moreI was not quite sure how many stars I should give this book. It is one of those novels, praised by critics and beloved by many avid book readers, that I just can't get into or find any redeeming qualities about. Reading the positive reviews and talking to my mother, who was so enthusiastic about this book, that she bought it for me and made me read it, makes me feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone. What exactly are all these people seeing in this novel that I can't see? It starts with everything in the open. Ford leaves nothing for later. We all know what is coming and the whole descriptive narration feels like filler. I was waiting for something to happen. I waited for it to grab me - for the narration to flow. I wanted to find the characters interesting, They are set up that way. Odd, weird, unusual, they never feel like real people. More like caricatures of people (which doesn't work for me at all). Only our protagonist Dell seems to be devoid of any distinctive character traits except for his oddly unemotional and uninvolved narrative style. Things happen to him but he never makes them happen. < That's probably also the main theme of the book. Unfortunately Ford isn't very good in making one believe in the possibilities of all these events happening in his novel. At one point I thought the whole story was going somewhere but I lost any hope after being half way through the second Part of the book, which is supposed to be thematically connected to the first half, but feels completely out of place and the unlikeliness of the events happening is even greater than in Part One. This just wasn't for me.(less)
I give this amazing book 4 1/2 stars. It took me a while to find a decent translation but once I found it I couldn't put it down. Until the last 30 or...moreI give this amazing book 4 1/2 stars. It took me a while to find a decent translation but once I found it I couldn't put it down. Until the last 30 or 40 pages. Why? Let's look at the positives first.
This novel is full of rich characters with own motivations, flaws ands strengths. I would constantly switch between disliking a character and feeling sympathy for them or even relating to their inner struggles and fears. It's amazing how Tolstoy was able to create so many different minds. None felt like the other. Sometimes he brought his own morality into it but it was never overwhelming and the love he had for each character makes every perspective enjoyable. And because of the great inside one gets into the minds of the protagonists the lack of "things happening" (as one of my friends put it) isn't really an issue. No, this is more of a psychological novel and it works on that basis.
All that should make me want to give this 5 stars but I can't. To be honest my biggest problem in this novel was Levin. This may sound strange since he seems to be the character people love the most but he irritated me after a while. At first I related to him a lot. His thought process and his insecurities reminded me of myself. But halfway through something happened. I don't know what. It's an irrational feeling towards this protagonist and even though I find his perspective to be one of the best, my irritation with him made me put this book down for the last few pages and I just recently finished it. Maybe it was the constant philosophical/religious discourse but I don't think so. I'm sure this isn't at all helpful - so i'll wrap it up.
All in all this is a masterpiece of classic literature and a must! I think there is something/someone for everyone and having so many different perspectives makes this a rich portrayal of human nature.(less)