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Anna Karenina
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January 2017: Foreign Literature > Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy -- 4.5 stars + ♥

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message 1: by Nicole R (last edited Jan 29, 2017 08:12AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7633 comments Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, narrated by Maggie Gyllenhaal
4.5 stars + ♥

I cannot even tell you how many people have recommended I read this over the years. Each person has been sure that I would love it but I resisted because, ugh, Russian literature sounds hard. And, I know very little (read: nothing) about the sociopolitical landscape of Russia in the 1870s. I should have trusted my friends more.

I loved this book! It was not flawless, but the central story of marriage and fidelity and family was completely engaging. The characters are a complex web of interrelated individuals but the namesake is Anna Karenina, a women who cheats on and ultimately leaves her husband for her lover. It was interesting to see how society treated a woman in her position, the constraints placed on her life, and the ramifications of petitioning for a divorce.

And, Anna was batsh*t crazy! Oh my gosh, she was the most insanely jealous, emotionally manipulative, self-centered character ever. I loved it. I wanted to shake her all the time, but I also thought she was an extreme version of the inner dialogues many people -- men and women -- have in relationships. Especially relationships that are uncertain.

And then there was Levin and Kitty. The other central relationship that was so ho-hum in contrast to Anna's fiery love life. They were often too over-the-top for my liking but I did like the progression of Kitty's character from lovesick teen to capable and competent wife.

I definitely would have benefitted from knowing more about Russian history at the time this was written. Obviously, there was some kind of agrarian revolution occurring, potentially a government shift, and women's rights were coming into focus. That is about all I got. I admit that it was hard for me to follow the chapters where Levin waxed poetic about harvesting and selling his grain (I think really the point may have been interactions with the serfs?). I have no idea. And then there was a few odd chapters at the end about soldiers in Serbia? I also think this was a political point that flew right over my head.

But, overall, I could not wait to listen to more of this 36 hour audiobook. I wanted to find out what happened next to the characters, I wanted to see what crazy relationship twist happened next, and I waited for the happy ending I hoped for the characters even though I knew it wasn't coming.

Thank you to everyone who pushed me to finally read this book! I would never have picked it up without encouragement from the PBTers :)


Denizen (den13) | 1138 comments Nicole R wrote: "Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, narrated by Maggie Gyllenhaal
4.5 stars + ♥

I cannot even tell you how many people have recommended I read this over ..."


Yay! You loved it. One of my all time favorites!


Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7633 comments Denizen wrote: "Yay! You loved it. One of my all time favorites!..."

It is going right up there on my list with Gone with the Wind!


message 4: by Barbara M (new)

Barbara M (barbara-m) | 2139 comments Hmmmm - I was a Russian history student in college, a bit of a Russophile (but not their govt!) and I've never read it. Since you listened to an audio - I'm becoming intrigued! How would you rate the narrator? Or were there multiple narrators?


Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7633 comments One narrator, just Maggie Gyllenhaal, and I thought she did a great job! Definitely listen to a sample of you can though, I think it was Susie who really disliked this narrator...


Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5484 comments I also listed to an audio version, but the narrator was Nadia May ... who was just okay.

LINK to my review


message 7: by annapi (new) - added it

annapi | 4830 comments One of these days....


message 8: by Susie (new) - added it

Susie | 4488 comments It was me! I thought I was going to love Maggie, in fact that's why I downloaded it, but I found it too dreamy I think? She was sending me to sleep!


Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7633 comments I did have to speed up Maggie a bit to 1.25 speed. I think that helped.

She is not the most expressive reader and my one critique is that I wish the character voices were more distinct.

I liked her calm, even reading though. Relaxing after a long day!


message 10: by Susie (new) - added it

Susie | 4488 comments I think I need to try again. I got about nine hours in.


message 11: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8094 comments Making me think that even I should try to read this book.


message 12: by Jgrace (new) - added it

Jgrace | 2678 comments I hate to jump in here because I've pretty much decided that I'm never going to finish this book. I will say that I've spent about 4 hours with an audiobook performed by Davina Porter and if anyone can do multiple character voices and accents it's Davina.


Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5484 comments Jgrace wrote: "I hate to jump in here because I've pretty much decided that I'm never going to finish this book. I will say that I've spent about 4 hours with an audiobook performed by Davina Porter and if anyone..."

Oh, I love Davina Porter! If I had listened to HER read this, I might have rated it higher.


message 14: by Joi (new)

Joi (missjoious) | 3762 comments Wow you made this sounds way more interesting than I've ever thought of it lol. I've never started because of the whole "daunting Russian lit' thing also, but it sounds pretty drama-filled!


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