I don’t even really want to talk about this one. I read it; isn’t that enough? I know that Anna Karenina is considered one of the best novels ever written and that I should like it, but I just didn’t. I got bored really quickly, and it’s just too damn long. And it’s false advertising, which makes me angry, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
Here’s a very basic plot summary: Anna Karenina is married and falls in love with Vronsky, and they run off together. At the same time, Levin, who meets Anna, like, once during the novel, falls in love with Kitty Shcherbatskaya, who at first rejects him for Vronsky but then marries him after Vronsky runs off with Anna, then questions the existence of God and has a long inner monologue.
Which is where the false advertising comes in. Anna Karenina is two novels, not one. The connection between the titular plotline and Levin’s is so tenuous that they could easily be separated. I’d have enjoyed an abridged copy with all of Levin’s crap cut out. Because I didn’t care. I think, though, that I would have appreciated it more when I was younger and was questioning, and such, as people tend to do at some point. Now, though, it’s not of interest to me, and it almost reminded me of the preachiness of Paolo Coelho or Milan Kundera, which we all know irritates me.
And maybe it didn’t help that I couldn’t settle on one format: I read it between paperback and Kindle and listened to the audiobook all the way to Grand Isle and back. If it wasn’t for that audiobook, I probably would have given up because at least listening is passive and I could only halfway pay attention to it. I was just bored.
Contributing to the boredom was my inability to sympathize with hardly any of the characters. I just didn’t like any of them. I know that I was supposed to like Levin, at least, but I just found him irritating. Especially over the fifty pages about mowing a field of grass with the peasants on his estate. Meh.
That’s not to say it isn’t a great novel. I could see why Tolstoy included all that he did; I just wasn’t interested in most of it. I didn’t know how it ended for Anna and Vronsky, but by that point, I wasn’t surprised, and I kind of rolled my eyes. And after that part, which was at least kind of interesting, Levin started on his ruminations.
I definitely feel like I’ve accomplished something just by getting through it.