25 April, 2015

Book Review: Anna Karenina

From GoodreadsLeo Tolstoy’s classic story of doomed love is one of the most admired novels in world literature. Generations of readers have been enthralled by his magnificent heroine, the unhappily married Anna Karenina, and her tragic affair with dashing Count Vronsky.
In their world frivolous liaisons are commonplace, but Anna and Vronsky’s consuming passion makes them a target for scorn and leads to Anna’s increasing isolation. The heartbreaking trajectory of their relationship contrasts sharply with the colorful swirl of friends and family members who surround them, especially the newlyweds Kitty and Levin, who forge a touching bond as they struggle to make a life together. Anna Karenina is a masterpiece not only because of the unforgettable woman at its core and the stark drama of her fate, but also because it explores and illuminates the deepest questions about how to live a fulfilled life.

Thoughts: Yay!! I finished! All 38 hours done.  Now to try and review it.
I'm glad I chose to listen to this rather than read. Last year I had an aborted attempt to read Les Miserables, mainly because I struggled with the huge swathes of text that had nothing to do with the story. I found the same with this - pages on farming techniques and political processes that appeared to have little or nothing to do with the main story. However, listening to it seemed easier than reading it - maybe I should try listening to Les Miserables instead.
I find I have to constantly remind myself of the time and era books such as Anna Karenina were written and set in. In particular, I have to remind myself how different the world was for women and how devastating it could be for them to be left on their own. Leaving your husband also meant leaving any children and destroying any social standing you had.
None of the characters in the book really endeared themselves to me. The amount of time spent worrying about what others thought, or assuming what others thought frustrated me beyond belief. Second guessing your decisions constantly also annoyed me. Again, something I think I must accept as part of the time.
But what most probably confuses me the most about Anna Karenina is why it's named Anna Karenina. Her story is only part of the book, and Levin seems to be a much more central character.
In the end, I'm glad I've read (or at least listened to) it, if only to say I have. Would I choose to read it again? Most probably not. I will however, track down a movie version. Any recommendations?

Anna Karenina gets 2 stars

 *        Did not like it
**       It was OK
***      Liked it
****    Really liked it
*****   It was amazing