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Knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Anna Karenina Book Review + Thoughts for Thursday--16

Anna Karenina Book Review

Welcome to Thursday's Read and Review Hop, hosted by Anya of On Starships and Dragonwings!

So I finally finished Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. It took me most of the year. Did I like it? That's kind of a loaded question. It was a fascinating book. More interesting for me, perhaps, than it would be for most others, because I actually know someone who is JUST LIKE Anna.

Anna is flawed in the worst sorts of ways which makes her a fascinating character, but rather annoying at the same time. For those who don't know, this book is about a married woman who has an affair with a younger man. That's not a spoiler. The affair begins near the start of the novel. She makes her decision to have the affair, which will ostracize her in the eyes of nineteenth century Russian society.

If that was what she wanted and she was willing to deal with the consequences, I could be okay with that. But that's not what Anna does. She flaunts her decision for all of this puritanical society to see, and then gets mad when a scandal hatches. She's the kind of woman that creates drama, then sits around crying because there's so much drama in her life.

By the end of the book, I wanted to throttle this woman! Yet, there is a lot of truth in Tolstoy's story because, as I said, I know someone who has made many of the same choices Anna did and is exactly like her. I think Tolstoy must have known just such a person. He describes this type of personality perfectly.

If you like tragic period pieces with class-system drama, this is the book for you! It's a bit slow moving and kind of hard to stay in, but persistence pays off. I read 1-2% a day until I was done. And I must say, I'm glad I did. I view it as an accomplishment and now I can boast that I've read Tolstoy. Yea!

About the writing: it's kind of hard to read. This is the type of book that would never get published today. There's a lot of meandering, repetition, and passive voice. Of course, this could be because the novel was originally written in Russian and translated. But, if you're going to tackle this one, be forewarned.

Overall, I thought the story was interesting and rang of truth. I'm glad I read it but I'm also glad to be done. :D

Thoughts for Thursday--16

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Thoughts for Thursday is a new meme hosted by Musings on Fantasia and LKHill.  In this meme, we share thoughts or quotes that we know or have recently come across. Each week there is a specific subject or theme. These can be quotes from books, quotes by famous people, (quotes by YOU, perhaps ;D). Anything from anywhere is game, though we do ask that you keep your quote to a few sentences at most. Don't quote, for example, entire passages of a book or essay. These can be funny quips, cool sayings, hair-raising antidotes, movie lines, any kind of quote you can think of!

Readers may respond by either commenting on the quotes I put forward or contributing a quote of their own. 

Just have fun, collect awesome sayings by awesome people, and try to be inspired!

This week's theme is Christmas!!!

"When we recall Christmas past, we usually find the simplest things--not the great occasions--give off the greatest glow of happiness."--Bob Hope

"Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind."--Mary Ellen Chase

"One can never have enough socks," said Dumbledore. "Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn't get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books."--J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

"Christmas doesn't come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more..."--Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

"I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."--Charles Dickens

What do you think? What is your favorite quote about Christmas? Have you read Anna Karenina? Everyone have a Merry Christmas, a great apocalypse, and a Happy New Year! See you in 2013! ;D


  1. Every now and again I break open a classic because I just know I should read it. Sometimes I am glad, other times, it's just such a chore. I haven't attempted this book yet, but maybe I will add it to the list and like you, take my time with it. Merry Christmas!

  2. Wow, I don't think I could handle this one and I commend you for finishing it! I have a problem with reading books which have a main character I can't stand ;-)

    Also please remember to link back to the hop since it's one of the rules!

  3. This book has been on my list for a while, but I know big classic Russian stories like this take a lot of dedication. I've read War and Peace and Dr. Zhivago, so I understand your statement about the meandering, passive voice, etc. Perhaps next year I will give it a shot.

  4. Great job reading a true classic Liesel. I love reading, but it's hard to imagine spending a year on one book. I think we all know someone like Anna unfortunately.

  5. I wasn't a fan of Anna, either. I just couldn't get myself to like her. Like you say, she creates drama for herself and then sits around and feels sorry for herself because of all the drama. I'm incredibly turned off by the number of people who think the book is a romance. (I've been afraid to go to the new movie because it's touted as a romance.) What's romantic about someone who's unhappy with life no matter what happens? It's a story about the foibles of human desire, not a romance.

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  6. Eek! You know someone just like Anna. I am so sorry to hear that.
    I really liked this read, although the characters made me crazy at times, they were a pleasure to hate. I was surprised at how often I changed my mind about how I was feeling about them. I loved one, hated the other and then it would be the complete opposite.
    The characters and story line are complex and the book is a chunkster of a read, but I am glad that I read it. I may have to revisit this one in the near future to see if I view things differently.
    Have you read Madame Bovary? That is another one that is as complex as you will allow it to be, according to how much you want to analyze what is happening. The MC is every bit as messed up, maybe even more!