Jessica's Reviews > Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
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Mar 16, 09

bookshelves: fifty-two-books-in-oh-nine, i-own-these-books, guardian-one-thousand, favorites
Read in March, 2009, read count: 1

** spoiler alert ** I had only a small idea of what I would be reading when I picked up Anna - her death is famous and constantly referenced. However, I had no idea of what would lead her to that point, and I didn't know any of the other names of the characters. Though the lengthy volume looked daunting, as soon as I began to read I was enthralled by every page of this translation.

I loved Tolstoy's characters. For existing in the 1800s, I was fascinated by how entirely real they seemed. I think there's something to be said for Tolstoy's knowledge of the human mind. I figured Anna would be the ultimate sympathetic protagonist here, and she was to a certain extent. Her first appearance in the novel, to the eyes of Vronsky, was undoubtedly great. She enters fresh-faced and jubilant, and devolves through the book into a paranoid and depressed woman (and most of it foreshadowed in that first encounter between her and Vronsky on that train). I'd have to say my favourite character was Levin; I loved his constantly-working mind, and his utter adoration for Kitty. I was so excited during that scene when he proposes to her. And the other characters - Oblonsky, Alexei Alexandrovich, Kitty, Dolly, Vronksy, etc. - all well-developed.

Tolstoy had a way with scenes as well - the ballroom scene through Kitty's eyes when she sees Anna and Vronsky; the horse race; Levin side-by-side with the workers on his farm; Anna's sickness after giving birth; the death of Levin's brother; the birth of Kitty and Levin's son, etc. I remember each of them as vividly as if he painted them.

There was only one part that I felt dragged, and that was in the very last section. I read nearly 800 pages without tiring of the novel, and then struggled to get through the few pages of political and religious commentary. Of course, these few pages didn't ruin the book in the least, but perhaps my exhaustive reading caught up with me. I enjoyed Levin's ending thoughts, for sure.

I honestly never thought I would enjoy this book as much as I did; the volume is quite lengthy and my experience with Tolstoy was always with his shorter works (though I loved them as well). I have to add Anna to my favourite books, it left such an impression on me that now I stare at it over on the bed and wish there was more of it to read. It took a long time (since February 1st!), and the book and its characters were my constant companions in my travels. I can't wait to read it again -- when a few years have passed!
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Reading Progress

02/01/2009 page 14
1.62% "And so it begins..."
02/02/2009 page 37
4.28% "Liking it - the way Levin is thinking about Kitty makes me smile."
02/03/2009 page 74
8.56% "It's flying - the thickness of the novel led me to believe it would be a slow-go. But it's not! Loving it!"
02/04/2009 page 104
12.04% "LOVE. Tolstoy's descriptive scenes are amazing. I love the ball scene through Kitty's point of view. Almost heartbreaking in realizations." 1 comment
02/05/2009 page 119
13.77% "Sean is playing catchup so I'm banned from reading this for 24hrs, and it hurts! I love it and wanna read read read. Stupid book club. Jk."
02/06/2009 page 131
15.16% "Sean, keep going! I started up again this morning, still loving."
02/09/2009 page 151
17.48% "Escalating, escalating..."
02/10/2009 page 179
20.72% "Interesting read from what I've heard of the book over the years to what I am anticipating happening while I it."
02/11/2009 page 201
23.26% "I don't like horses or horseraces but the whole chapter with the horserace was quite captivating; wonderful descriptions."
02/18/2009 page 253
29.28% "Back on track!"
02/19/2009 page 274
31.71% "Love the scene set by Darya & the kids in the country - and when Levin visits."
02/20/2009 page 308
35.65% "I love Levin's character. Anxious to find out what's going to happen btwn Anna and Vronsky." 2 comments
02/23/2009 page 331
38.31% "Still on track to finish Part 4 by this weekend; still love the story and wondering what lies in the hundreds of pages ahead!"
02/25/2009 page 385
44.56% "Still surprised by how fast-paced this is; I keep looking at the amount of pages I have left and wondering what's going to happen!"
02/26/2009 page 412
47.69% "I have been smiling for the past few pages. Because of Levin's happiness." 4 comments
02/27/2009 page 448
51.85% "Fully loved part 4 of Anna. From ecstatic happiness to incredibly depressing - I'm totally enthralled."
03/02/2009 page 469
54.28% "Continue to have no idea what's going to happen next, and thus I keep turning the page eagerly..."
03/03/2009 page 492
56.94% "Living the artist's life? How's this all going to pan out..."
03/04/2009 page 518
59.95% "Alexei Alexandrovich is so awkward. And not in the endearing way Levin is."
03/05/2009 page 551
63.77% "Finished Part 5 - still a great, solid read. I kind of just want to devour the rest of the book in the next week...I love it."
03/09/2009 page 568
65.74% "I feel like I'm in the home stretch - and I'm dying to know what happens!"
03/10/2009 page 592
68.52% "The hunting scene is oddly captivating. Find myself smiling at Levin's reactions to Volensky."
03/11/2009 page 622
71.99% "Back to Anna and Vronsky! It's been over a month of reading this book every day, and I still love it."
03/12/2009 page 667
77.2% "Honestly, the chapters having to do with the elections were the slowest for me. But it was relatively brief, at least."
03/13/2009 page 700
81.02% "It seems like things are at such a "steady-state" right now and there's only 100 pages left...excited."
03/16/2009 page 794
91.9% "23 pages left!"
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Shari What you said about the characters - YES. I think I found the conversion so jarring because Levin resonated completely with the rational thoughts of a 20th/21st century person. I loved how he challenged people's beliefs early on. Then it went away, and I was sad.

So now the question is, how long until one of us picks up the next BIG book? I contemplated pulling Les Miserables out of the basement the other day; I never finished the last part!

Jessica Oh geez - the next one?! I'm going to have to wait. I have two in the wings already: A Storm of Swords by George RR Martin (Epic Fantasy), and 2666 by Roberto Bolano. I'm trying to get through all the books I *own* so I don't spend more money on books until then! (I have a problem)

So...last night I started reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and there's already several Anna Karenina references, I kid you not! Kind of eerie. Also, I think Fun Home had an Anna reference in the beginning, and I was also smiling at that.

I think I need to get through the rest of March with short books and maybe Mid-April I'll pick up another thick one. I've never read Les Miserables!

Shari Yeah I read two Neil Gaiman kids' books after Anna. And Easter Rising (a memoir). Now Outliers. All short by comparison!

I'll have to read Unbearable Lightness again at some point. It's one of my faves.

I've been relatively good about spending money on books lately; I'm also trying to read the ones I've bought :)

message 4: by Sean (new) - added it

Sean I actually really liked the ending, I liked how once everything settled, Levin is still Levin, and though he is constantly trying to change himself throughout the book, he ends up being the same as where he started. He cannot change his challenging, unfaithful soul, and try as he might, despite marragie, child, and overall happiness he is still alone within himself (albiet, happier).

I too loved this book, and cannot wait to re-read it. This translation was wonderful, I fully plan on buying the duo's take on C&P and War and Peace...FSJBCBs?

Man, that 90210 "Anna" was awesome right?

Jessica Look who's catching up with the INTERNET!

Should I trust you with another 800+ page FSJBCB?? It may have to be post-Honeymoon when I'm more relaxed. Hahaha. We may just have to bump FSJBCB down to "shows with literary themes" like that episode of 90210. HA!

message 6: by Sean (new) - added it

Sean i know! i know! I just read your blog for the first time in like a month, seriously. i can def do another 800+ book, unfortunately during the reading of Anna i ran into the busiest three month OF MY LIFE. seriously, i wrote my college thesis paper in like 2 days. I have never been so busy i didnt have time to READ. Ha!

Im up for shorter FSJBCB projects, but we shouldnt rule out the long ones! like I said im gonig to read those other translations at some point if you want in...

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