Title: Anna Karenina
Author: Leo Tolstoy
What I think so far: I was hesitant whether to read this book for a number of reasons; firstly, I am not generally a fan of the ‘Classic’ novel – whilst I enjoy the story, I often become impatient with the excessive description and characters who are typical in their unconventionality. Secondly, the 351,000 words are inevitably pretty daunting. Finally, I was concerned as to whether the translation (the book was originally written in Russian), would have an impact on the linguistic effect of the novel.
But in spite of my initial reservations, I decided to give it a go, having enjoyed the film and a keen interest in the period of Russian history in which the novel is set. This is a decision I have not at all regretted.
Whilst I think the next book I read will be a little shorter, (if only to make me feel better about the length of time it has taking me to finish one book!), I have enjoyed being able to truly get to know the numerous characters in the book and get into each one of their heads through the multiple perspectives that the narrator takes. The length allows for a really three dimensional world to be created of 19th century Russian society. Within this world there are the vividly depicted social events: balls, races, teas set aside from the more intimate moments between pairs of lovers, brothers, friends and solitary moments of reflection and distress – all of which are equally well portrayed in the intelligence of Tolstoy’s writing.
This is a book that for some is considered as the best ever written and I have to admit that Tolstoy’s method of story-telling is breathtaking. His writing is fluent and eloquent, presenting a rather chaotic story crystal clear. His characterisation is profound and he writes of the experiences of men, women and children of differing social classes and psychologies as if he has lived each one of their lives.
Would I recommend?: The conflict of country vs town life, personal sacrifice for the sake of social security, following your heart or your head are dilemmas that the novel deals with, which are timelessly relevant. So yes, I think it’s a book that will appeal to everyone in different ways. There are aspects which so many different people will relate to or find affinity with, things to ponder, things to look forward to in our lives to come, all presented through the flawless elegance of a literary genius.
Words by Ella Khalek