"Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe" ~ Neil Gaiman (A Game of You)


Anna Karenina

Do you think it is presumptuous of me to "review" Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy? I mean, really, am I going to find fault with what has been described as the best novel of all time? And does anyone really care that "I liked it"?

Nonetheless ...

I really enjoyed this book! I learned so much from it. It really crushed me as a writer, destroying any self-aggrandizing ideas that I might actually have enough talent to put pen to paper and come up with a worthy story. My husband chastised me. "Really, honey, you're comparing yourself to Tolstoy?"

Tolstoy has the most amazing style. His story meanders, moving slowly, lingeringly, but seamlessly through the lives of his characters. I found that I had to remove myself from the frantic pace of life today to be able to enjoy the book. But once I did, I found it difficult to put down.

I loved the depth of his characters. He allows his heroes to be flawed and his villains, if you can call them that, to have virtues. He never comes right out and tells you what to think of his characters. He shows them to you and allows you to come to your own conclusions. Yet his truth and perhaps opinion is clear. He doesn't glamorize or excuse the adulterous relationship between Vronsky and Anna. He exposes the lie behind the promise of happiness when they finally consummate their affair. He shows the insecurity of such a position and the way it corrodes the feelings of those involved. The disintegration of their relationship is inescapable.

Neither does he glamorize the relationship between Levin and Kitty. Being a blissfully happily married wife with delightful, wonderful children, of course I was most moved by Levin and Kitty's relationship. Their painful awkwardness coupled with their dizzy romantic expectations made me smile. I remember those days! I could see their relationship building, becoming something strong and solid.

I wonder what my reaction to the novel would have been if I, like Anna, were trapped in a cold, loveless marriage. Would my opinion of her have been softened? Would I have seen the novel as a tragedy? Would it have made me feel more hopeless still? I am curious.

I love the kind of book that leaves me pondering for days after. Anna Karenina certainly succeeded.


Nikki~Down syndrome Storyteller said...

Wow, great musings. Thanks. Now you've made me think.