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Anna Karenina
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Anna Karenina: Reading the Book > AK - Week 1: Unhappy Families

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message 1: by Goodreads (last edited Sep 11, 2012 02:43PM) (new)

Goodreads (GoodreadsActual) Part One focuses on a family theme and opens with, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Do you agree with its assertion?


message 2: by Goodreads (new)

Goodreads (GoodreadsActual) Also, as a result of being unhappy, Anna has an affair; do you think this affair would have still happened if she didn’t visit her brother?


Paula | 3 comments I do agree with the quote as each family has their own unique issues. I also would say that yes, I think that eventually as unhappy and disdain as Anna was she would have had an affair regardless.


message 4: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne Pugin | 2 comments I read this book at three different times in my life. When I was 17, I thought Anna was a heroine. When I was 40 I thought she was a tragic figure, misled, misunderstood. Now, in my sixties, I know she was a foolish, selfish, vain woman who sacrificed her son, her close friend and her family for compulsion. However, it is a glorious book and beautifully constructed. Still love it!!


Mini-nea Every family is unlike and therefore its the same it's the same with unhappy families. I think that going to her brother had a strong role because she met Vronsky and he fell in love with her. She tried to stay away but after a while she gave up and started the affair. But I can't decide over if she'd had an affair if she hadn't gone to her brother.


Jace Chrzanowski | 45 comments Interesting question to germinate. I suppose Anna could have had an affair with Levine before he would marry.Kitty with much less dramatic repercussions!


Jace Chrzanowski | 45 comments I mean before Levine married Kitty. Then, Tolstoy would have written a bildungsroman like Balzac's 'Père Goirot'.


Diana All families have order and disorder. All times are not meant for happiness, we need to grow through the good and bad times, its what Tues you together or rips you apart. I believe Anna was so unsatisfied that she would have had an affair regardless of visiting her brother or not.


Nicole (Nicolemae) I think what Anna did was horrible even thought she was not happy. She should have chose to be a better person. I think she would end up having an affair no matter what. If you have it in to cheat you will do it regardless of the situation or place.


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Lena | 19 comments From what I can gather, Anna's marriage to Karenin is full blown lie, and Vronsky's love is a love at first sight kind of thing. Perhaps, Anna's fate was inevitable the moment she met Vronksy.....Anna was discontent and nothing was going to change that. Either way she was trying to escape reality.


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Mar Mai (Mar_Mai) | 3 comments Suzanne I love your comment! It's so true, how Anna's character evolves in our minds the more we become acquainted with her. I confess that I always saw her as completely self absorbed. I could never relate to her throwing her life and child away.


message 12: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Every family has quirks, every family has problems. To an outsider, a happy family may look just like the next- but this is vastly untrue. I have known "happy" families that look perfect but are actually dealing with abuse, gambling addiction, mental health issues ....the list goes on. Anna, living in a loveless marriage, seeks what her life is lacking. Had she not gone to her brother's, I believe she still would have sought to fill that void in some other way.


message 13: by Jace (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jace Chrzanowski | 45 comments Why do we never discuss Anna's husband Alexi and Lydie Ivanovas' torrid, and bizarre relationship? He doesn't wait long to replace Anna.
She reminds me of Bess Foster. The interloper in the lives of The Duke and Duchess Georgiana of Devonshire.


message 14: by Shelley (new)

Shelley | 21 comments Just wanted to mention that I recently ran into (on the Internet) some real video footage of the last days of Tolstoy and his funeral rites. I really couldn't take my eyes off the screen. I'm not quite sure where to direct people to find it, but you could probably google it.

Shelley, http://dustbowlpoetry.wordpress.com


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Jennika (layalireads) I think all families in general are alike. There will always be a bond there regardless of the issues between them or the differences each one has. A group's happiness will always depend on the individuals within it, families included.

I believe Anna would have acted out in some way to show her unhappiness. I don't think that her visiting Stiva made a difference either way.


Kylie | 77 comments I really like the quote about families because I feel that it strikes home in many ways. Even the happiest couples or families have their issues. Life gets in the way so often. I think, in general, people try the best they can but I don't believe we can ever achieve a perfect happiness. As a result, I think that there is always unhappiness under the surface. This unhappiness can be base on a small issue but without understanding what the issues are in a family unit, it can spiral out of control and allow the unhappiness to take over.


Donna (LadyDonna) I agree with Suzanne. Reading this book at different times in my life gave me different insights. As a teenager I wondered about unhappy marriages. As a middle aged adult and now at 60 I realized there are times in marriage where one or both partners are not happy, but mature adults do not give up and behave selfishly; they work through the issues to find happiness on the other side. After 41 years of marriage, I know it is well worth the effort and the work.


Kylie | 77 comments Anna was so unhappy in her relationship, I'm sure she would have cheated eventually. It may have taken longer if she didn't visit her brother but I'm sure it would have eventually happened anyway.


Lilac  | 9 comments I agree Kylie, although it's possible that if she hadn't visited her brother then before she met someone and had an affair something could have happened to change the way she thought or to make her love her husband again.


Kylie | 77 comments Lilac, that's absolutely true. I have just completed part 1 so I'm not sure, but it seems that Anna's husband is extremely arrogant so I wonder if he would feel the need to do something different in his relationship. This is why I think it would have eventually happened because so far he doesn't seem like the kind of person who is concerned about his wife's needs or feelings.


Kimberly I have just completed Part 1 (but read this about 5 years ago) and it is so strange/sad that all of the families presented are unhappy ... The Prince and Princess, Dolly and Oblonsky, Levin and his brothers, Anna and her husband...etc. I think that unhappiness has its place in every family, but it is the families response that dictates the future. Anna's unhappiness with her marriage led to the affair, but she could have chosen a different path...oh the choices we make.


Kylie | 77 comments I know this isn't one of the questions, but does anyone know what was going on in Russian society in this time period? I'm assuming that divorce is unheard of or completely devastating to the wife but I am not sure. Based on this assumption, I don't think that Dolly had a choice but to stay with her husband so she had to do her best to get past the unhappiness in her family even though Oblonsky wasn't entirely sincere in his apology. I also wonder if it may have been socially acceptable for a man to have affairs. Just some random observations! While I love history, I am unfamiliar with Russian social history! Any insights would be appreciated.


Poiema Suzanne wrote: "I read this book at three different times in my life. When I was 17, I thought Anna was a heroine. When I was 40 I thought she was a tragic figure, misled, misunderstood. Now, in my sixties, I k..."

Suzanne wrote: "I read this book at three different times in my life. When I was 17, I thought Anna was a heroine. When I was 40 I thought she was a tragic figure, misled, misunderstood. Now, in my sixties, I k..."

Suzanne, isn't it interesting how perspective changes with age? I'm in my 50's and reading it for the first time. My view of Anna is closest to your most recent view.


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Jace Chrzanowski | 45 comments Divorce at the time of the novel could be performed for three reasons: deformity, five years abscene, adultery.


message 25: by Jace (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jace Chrzanowski | 45 comments To prove adultery there had to be witnesses. If Anna was accused of adultery. She could never marry again. No man would risk the social ostracism. If Alexis admitted to adultery. He would be ridiculed and could no longer hold a government position. Catch 22 for both.


Elizabeth Campbell (BooksbytheWeek) | 6 comments To deal with the first part: I think that all families are unique in their own ways, but I think happy families all look the same. In my opinion I'm not sure that there really is such a thing as a happy family. So I guess you could say that on the outside all of the "happy families" look the same. We always strive to keep up with the Jones'. In the end we really all feel like we should be the same.

Part two: If Anna hadn't exposed herself to the society of her brother and her family I think she would have continued on in exactly the same strain she was before. I can't imagine that you could say that just because she was happy she was destined to have an affair. It's possible that she may have found a different pursuit, but I doubt that in her home circle she would have crossed those boundaries. I feel like it has a good deal to do with the people that you place yourself around, the decisions that you make. Anna was not only a victim to herself, but also a victim of her selfish friends.


Kylie | 77 comments Thanks jace! One question though, by deformity do you mean a child is born deformed or a spouse gets injured and becomes deformed/ hid a birth defect?


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Jace Chrzanowski | 45 comments Spouse hid birth defect.


message 29: by Kate (new) - added it

Kate Colvin | 4 comments Donna wrote: "I agree with Suzanne. Reading this book at different times in my life gave me different insights. As a teenager I wondered about unhappy marriages. As a middle aged adult and now at 60 I realize..."

So true, however both parties have to work at it. When one party no longer even attempts to work at it then it is time to leave the dead relationship. Luckily I found love again.


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Christine (Christine_A) | 2 comments Suzanne wrote: "I read this book at three different times in my life. When I was 17, I thought Anna was a heroine. When I was 40 I thought she was a tragic figure, misled, misunderstood. Now, in my sixties, I k..."

I love this perspective!!!


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