- Series: Macmillan Collector's Library (Book 99)
- Hardcover: 1136 pages
- Publisher: Macmillan Collector's Library; Reissue edition (February 7, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1509827781
- ISBN-13: 978-1509827787
- Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 2 x 6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2,946 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #383,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Anna Karenina (Macmillan Collector's Library) Hardcover – February 7, 2017
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About the Author
Count Lev (Leo) Nikolaevich Tolstoy was born at Vasnaya Polyana in the Russian province of Tula in 1828. He inherited the family title aged 19, quit university and after a period of the kind of dissolute aristocratic life so convincingly portrayed in his later novels, joined the army, where he started to write. Travels in Europe opened him to western ideas, and he returned to his family estates to live as a benign landowner. In 1862 he married Sofia Behr, who bore him 13 children. He expressed his increasingly subversive, but devout, views through prolific work that culminated in the immortal novels of his middle years, War and Peace and Anna Karenina. Beloved in Russia and with a worldwide following, but feared by the Tsarist state and excommunicated by the Russian Orthodox church, he died in 1910.
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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.
If you looking for a thrilling story line with lots of twists and unexpected turns, this is probably not the book for you. I mean it's an interesting enough story, but it's involves things that happen all the time to ordinary people. What's so enjoyable is the way he DESCRIBES what's going on in each scene, each conversation, the thoughts and emotions of the characters as they deal with whatever unfolds in their lives. Especially I like he way he jumps around in his descriptions, what's going through her mind, what she says, what's her body language, what he sees, what he thinks, how it affects him, descriptions of the little physical clues to their feelings. He's moving around from character to character, from dialogue to thoughts to physical descriptions, and as you read, all of a sudden YOU'RE THERE! Actually you're more than there, because you see it from many different perspectives, and you just know exactly what they're feeling, thinking. It's really breathtaking is the best way to describe it as he's moving you around the scene seeing both the surface and deep into the character's thoughts and feelings. He even gets into the mind of the damn hunting dog, and after I got done rolling on the floor with laughter I got up and said "YES, YES, that's exactly how they think!"
This was my first Russian novel (other that something on Crime and Punishment years ago that I never finished and can't really recall) but it won't be my last, I'll read this again at least once, then will explore whatever else is out there. In fact the only down side to reading this book is that it may have ruined me for less compelling writers. Charles Dickens has always been one of my favorite writers, but I can't seem to get through David Copperfield all of a sudden...maybe happy people ARE all pretty much the same.
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.