Scott Foshee's Reviews > Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Dec 27, 2012

really liked it
Read from June 26 to September 14, 2011

Do not be intimidated by Anna Karenina. My theory about "big books" and classics is that they have been around all these years for a reason. A "big book" should make you want to read it and stick with it. Anna Karenina has been sitting on my bookshelf taunting me for literally 20 years. I finally decided to pick it up and I am glad I did.

The hardest thing about reading Anna Karenina for me was keeping track of all the Russian names in the beginning. Tolstoy is such a fine writer that each character is easily identified by their personalities and mannerisms however, and once I realized this fact the names stopped being an issue. Tolstoy's observations about people and society are spot on, and have survived this long precisely because they are timeless.

I will leave the plot descriptions to the other reviews here. Suffice it to say that the short chapters keep the story moving. Start with 2-3 chapters a night for a few days, and soon Tolstoy will have you looking forward to picking up the book again and re-entering the world of mid-19th century Russian society. In addition to being a terrific story, Anna Karenina is surprisingly funny and addresses many themes such as the hypocrisy of society, structure of family and friendship, politics, and even takes a surprisingly forward-thinking and tolerant viewpoint of religion. Tolstoy's pioneering use of stream-of-consciousness writing as Anna breaks down towards the end of the book is breathtaking, and it is easy to see why this exciting use of narrative sparked the imagination of so many great writers to follow. In addition, I found the descriptions of how to run a Russian farm at the time to be quite interesting. One scene describing a full day of mowing hay by hand is simply magical, and it reminded me that this kind of writing mastery - the ability to make even the most obscure and seemingly mundane subjects breathlessly fascinating - is sorely lacking in much of contemporary writing.

Tolstoy has lasted so long and is considered a master for a reason. The story flows, the characters are so alive that they leap off the page, and the themes and observations are timeless. Reading Anna Karenina is not a chore - it is a pleasure that you will be looking forward to every night. There is a seat for you at the dinner party, and sparkling conversation awaits.

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Anna Karenina.
Sign In »

No comments have been added yet.