4 of 10 people found the following review helpful
An unrewarding classic,
This review is from: Anna Karenina (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
I am an avid reader of 'classic' books and I am hungrily working my way through all of those must-read-before-you-die works of literature. I thought War and Peace would be a good one to add to my list, but a little daunted by this, I decided to try Anna Karenina as an introduction to Tolstoy.
Unfortunately, I was disappointed. I quite liked the interchangeable Russian names and the constant need to think and recollect as each character was referred to throughout the book - it's certainly a good read late at night when you need help dropping off to sleep! But the book inspired no interest in Russian high society, politics or farming - which made it a hard slog as so many pages were unrewardingly devoted to this. I developed some sympathy for Levin, until the final few chapters when I really just felt that he ought to 'get a grip' and stop being so ludicrously self-involved!
Kitty and Dolly are likeable characters which redeems the book in places, but Anna herself is incomprehensible to me. I am a mother myself and I could find no sympathy for her; particularly in her attitude to her children. It made difficult reading and I believe that Anna could have improved her situation by being less selfish. She missed Seryosza, but only from her own point of view - there was no suggestion that she was concerned about his state of mind or welfare.
I was slightly annoyed to read a review which said that Tolstoy truly understood women, because he wrote Anna Karenina. I do not agree!
Having said this, it is worth reading if only just for the achievement of finishing. Some people love it.