For THE LONGEST TIME, I somehow misread the title of this book and thought it was “Anne” Karenina. It was only after I was 10% through this book (ah, the joys of reading on Kindle) that I realised it was “Anna” and was mortifyingly disappointed in myself. I swear I saw it say “Anne” somewhere.. it must be to do with the translation…
Anyways, in yesterday’s post, I discussed how I sometimes know I’m going to love a book before I have read it, and this is partially the case with this book. Partially, because although I knew that this was a timeless classic (check) and the premise was absolutely intriguing (check) and it is considered the greatest novel of all time (wow it’s just screaming at me at this point)… I think this may possibly be the first time I’ve read a Russian book (translated, of course) and my first book from Leo Tolstoy so I wasn’t sure how those two factors would play out. I was also hesitant to begin, because it is one thousand pages long (the equivalent to three normal sized books) and I didn’t want to be stuck into one book for… lord save me, the whole summer.
Nevertheless, I was hopeful. In my experiences in reading Alexandre Dumas’ book The Count of Monte Cristo (which I’m still reading – please forgive me it’s also one thousand pages… there is a story to my relationship with this book which I can talk about in another post – I started on ebook and then purchased myself a lovely copy) I realised the necessity of having a good translation, so I Googled to find the best translation of Anna Karenina and ensured that my ebook had that translation and then I began my reading.
I read several Goodreads reviews before reading this, and they outlined one problem that I may face upon reading – was that this book is not just about the beautiful Anna Karenina entrapped in the cages of society. It is also about Levin, a farmer – with which Tolstoy did have his purpose… but the chapters and chapters spent outlining his agricultural endeavours had the potential to be painstakingly boring. So I went into the book with this in mind, preparing myself for the farming pages and also trying to tell myself that I can’t just read the book for Anna’s story, I should read it for the whole story, which includes Levin’s farm.
I’m currently 30% (300 pages) through. For any other book, it would be too late to do a first-impressions post, but because it is so long I thought I should wait a while to properly give my first-impressions of it. I have read classics of a similar length before (although this is definitely the longest) such as The Woman in White, and so I am able to really enjoy books that are more slow-burn, longer reads and I do really appreciate an elaborately crafted plot slowly unravelling across many pages – in fact sometimes I even prefer them because you become so emotionally attached to the characters that you are even more invested in the story.
I love the way in which Tolstoy introduces this whole world and society to us, through Anna’s brother. Through him, we are introduced to both Anna, Kitty and Levin – the three POVs in the story (so far). I was surprised by how instantly I became invested in Anna as a character, becoming as captivated with her as Kitty initially is. Tolstoy masterfully depicts 19th century Russian society in a way that is wholly engrossing.
I’ve not always been much of a fan of different POVs in a story – but I love Anna, Kitty and Levin equally in different ways, and engrossed in all of their stories. I’m really able to appreciate the multifaceted way in which Tolstoy is portraying each of the characters, even the more minor (but still important) characters. I really, really love the characterisation.
So far, I’m really enjoying this book. I absolutely love classics and sometimes long books are the best kind of books and I really hope that this one is no exception. It is obviously taking me longer than usual to plough through it, but hopefully a review will be coming your way soon!
Have you read this before? What were your thoughts? Do you think my thoughts might change?