Today I have a review of the longest book I read this year: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.
Anna Karenina is unhappy. After eight years, her marriage isn’t all that she hoped it would be. She has a son, Serezha, that she loves dearly, and Karenin, her husband, isn’t mean to her…he’s just distant. She’s not in a “bad” marriage, but she seems to be in a loveless marriage.
Kitty Scherbatskaya is old enough to get married but her mother and father are divided as to whom she should marry. Her mother favors a military man. Her father favors an older man, a gentleman farmer, humble and kind.
Constantine Levin is an over thinker. Everything in his life he decides on with too much thought including matters of the heart. He desperately wants to get married and he’s sure that if that is ever to happen, it will be to the one woman that occupies his mind. He longs to marry her and bring her to his farm and make a life together…if only he had the courage to ask….
Vronsky is a military man and a bachelor. And now he has fallen for a married woman after meeting her on a train by chance. How will he deal with this new found affection…a married woman is out of the question…what will society think? Or does Vronsky care?
These four people are about to be intertwined in ways that none of them ever imagined was possible.
I do not understand why this book ended up being called Anna Karenina. Honestly, after having read it, I am convinced that it would have been smarter to call it Constantine Levin. The story is, in volume, so much more about Constantine than anyone else in this book. And frankly, I find it easier to make Constantine the hero of this book that it is to make Anna the heroine. Anna is NOT heroine material. I feel sorry for her sometimes, but I definitely was not rooting for her. In fact, I found myself rooting for almost all of the other characters in the book before her. So many people suffered because of her!
Overall I would say that because it is a classic, some people may want to read this book just for the experience of read THE Anna Karenina, however, I would only recommend that, if anyone is determined to read this book, they be a mature adult because of the long standing theme of extra-marital affairs (no, there’s no sex scenes). It’s not exactly a book that most parents would want their young one reading.
I usually do not like to recommend that someone read an abridged version of a classic book because, in many cases, so much is missed when the book is abridged. However, after reading all 963 pages of Anna Karenina I would HIGHLY recommend buying an abridged version. There are whole chapters that have nothing to do with the actual plot of the book. Now, I am by no means saying that every book be no more than three hundred pages and all related to the storyline. That would be boring. What I am saying is that several detailed chapters on the word-for-word conversations about the specifics of Russian farming and the different political views surrounding it and the economics behind it is not exactly something you expect to read in a fiction story about the woes of an unhappy gentlewoman and housewife. And yes. It is about as exciting as it sounds.
Aside from the details that are highly unnecessary, there are plenty of interesting twists and turns in the book and I think that the abridged version will bring those events closer together in the timeline of the story and make the story move forward more smoothly.
So what am I saying here? Am I recommending the book or not? Truly, I’m not. But if you are bound and determined to read it, do consider getting the abridged version.