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Anna Karenina Hardcover – February 16, 2008
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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One thing that really amazed me was how well Tolstoy could switch between different characters and settings. Everyone had distinct personalities and the way they were all portrayed was with so much compassion and understanding that as a reader I could really see parts of myself in everyone. There was no one character that I related to more than any other. I was able to relate to every single one of them differently. I believe this is the reason Tolstoy is considered a master.
The pace of the book is a little slow for me because I'm a slow reader, but in retrospect I feel like the pace was actually pretty good and it only felt slow because I had absolutely no idea where the story was going. Every chapter had something new happening and the story just strolled right along. Probably like riding a tractor for 50 miles. You've got plenty of time to look at all the flowers and clouds and barns and animals along the way, it takes forever, but it never stops moving.
It helped a lot to have this book on my kindle because towards the end there was more and more french that was easy to translate with the kindle. The port to the kindle was perfect. I saw no strange spacing or oddly misspelled words.
Overall I recommend giving this book a shot. Don't be discouraged by the length. I realize a reader may feel compelled to read this particular book just so they can say that they did. It's got that trophy book status. I feel like that's a bad thing though. If you find yourself a few hundred pages in and are interested in what's going on, then keep going. If however after a few hundred pages you feel like it's a chore to read, then don't bother, it's not going to suddenly become more interesting after any point in the book. It's very consistent, you can trust this author and the translation, the ending won't let you down, there will be no long lulls. What you get in the beginning is what you get through the entire book, it's very steady and very high quality writing.
Anna feels wooden to me. She is conflicted, does impulsive destructive things--giving into Vronsky--without any evidence that she's considered the effect on her and on her son. If you want to read an authentic voice of feminine angst, read Alice Munroe.
Even with wooden Anna, this book was worth the effort for me. Written 1875-1877, the time the Impressionists were shaking up the Paris salons, it is a novel of ideas. It asks, what about the old way of life is worth saving? What should be thrown out?
It does showt that living in a patriarchy is difficult for many women. Conversely, rich men are unaware that they have a tailwind making their lives so much easier.
Not having studied literature at the university level, I feel under qualified to review a book by L. Tolstoy. But as an avid reader I thoroughly enjoyed this book. His rich character development allows you to place yourself within his stories. You meet the type of people he describes in every day life in today's world. I suspect the author had a high IQ given his tremendous insight into people and politics. His writing was exactly in line with Russia's political trajectory and predicts their disastrous experiment with communism. I found War and Peace a slightly more engaging book (and much longer!) possibly because of a fascination with war and politics. Anna Karenina is a grand work by a master writer!