As my friend Sherri said, "It's funny because I am enjoying the story an...moreI really thought Anna Karenina might kill me before I finished. But I made it.
As my friend Sherri said, "It's funny because I am enjoying the story and a few of the characters have really captured me, but it's so torturous! How can both be true?!"
Which basically sums up my take on it. The final train scene is justifiably famous; it was absolutely brilliant. Tolstoy captures so effortlessly Anna's increasing disconnect from reality.
But all those chapters where Levin babbles on and on about crops? Meh. I read this review on Goodreads, saying that till Levin marries he's just a cipher, an empty character to show Lenin's views on agriculture, which seems about right.
I doubt I'm capable of saying anything truly original in my review of Anna Karenina, but here are my four main takeaways:
(1) As Tolstoy explains in the opening sentence, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” I loved how aptly he portrayed three different marriages: the very unhappy, broken marriage of Anna and Alexei Karenin, the dysfunctional but surviving marriage of Stepan Arkadyich and Dolly, and the mostly happy, but occasionally jealous marriage of Konstantin Levin and Kitty. It also made me very thankful for my own husband, who is a million times better than any of those three guys!
(2) Why did Tolstoy title the book Anna Karenina? It could just as easily have been titled Konstantin Levin really. Was her name supposed to make it a better seller? I think it skews us automatically to sympathize a bit more with Anna, since the book is "hers".
(3) Ugh, Vronsky and Anna's relationship irritated me. Could she not see that she went straight from the arms of one self-centered man to another? And even though I realize that it was a result of societal mores at the time, it still irritated me that Vronsky had basically no consequences as a result of their liaison, while Anna's life was ruined. Although by the end I actually felt a little sorry for Vronsky for having to put up with Anna's craaaaziness.
(4) I'm glad I read it. It really was brilliant; albeit long. I won't go as far as Faulkner and call it the "best novel ever written", but it was good. But will I ever read it again? Doubt it. (less)
I can see why this is probably the least popular of her books. Still loved the witty dialogue and superb characterization... but unfortunately didn't...moreI can see why this is probably the least popular of her books. Still loved the witty dialogue and superb characterization... but unfortunately didn't love any of those characters.(less)
I loved this so much! Can't believe I never read it before. The funniest Austen yet - and Catherine & Henry are both such nice people, so their ro...moreI loved this so much! Can't believe I never read it before. The funniest Austen yet - and Catherine & Henry are both such nice people, so their romance is quite satisfying.(less)
This book was pretty classic Wharton: amazing characterization, a love story that goes awry, heartrending sadness mix...moreOh Edith Wharton, how I love you.
This book was pretty classic Wharton: amazing characterization, a love story that goes awry, heartrending sadness mixed with satirical observation.
Newland Archer, the main character is a bit wishy-washy; I much preferred Ellen Olenska and May Welland as characters. I think my favorite parts were the descriptions of Ellen and May's obese grandmother--they were outstanding!
So far so good with catching up on the classics I missed; I've really enjoyed both The Great Gatsby and The Age of Innocence.(less)
I'm slightly ashamed to admit I had never read this, and in my recent decision to read more of the classics I've missed, I figured I'd start with a ni...moreI'm slightly ashamed to admit I had never read this, and in my recent decision to read more of the classics I've missed, I figured I'd start with a nice short one. Since I'm sure most people have read this already, I'll skip the summary, and just say I liked the evocative language, the glimpse at another era and another lifestyle. While some of the characters weren't very likeable, Nick, the narrator, was eminently likeable, but not in a pompous way.(less)