Man review: don’t bother. Nothing about this book will interest you.
Lady review: don’t bother. Ditto the rest.
Long version includes “spoilers,” which I put into quotation marks because it doesn’t matter whether or not I tell you about the ending of the book. If you ever bother to read it you’ll be so bored at that point that you probably won’t even notice.
It was taking me FOREVER to finish the thing and that I would be delighted if all the main characters would just die, that’s how tired of them I was. And I maintain that stance. Thankfully, at least one main character dies.
Anna Karenina is one of those books where you get into it, you become interested, and then it just. Keeps. Going. Nothing actually changes; the narration just continues and continues. It’s like the first 20 minutes of a movie for 20 hours – all introduction. Over. And over.
So, basic story is that Anna, who is really wonderful and interesting, was married to an older statesman by some matchmaker aunt. This is Russia in the 1800s, by the way. The marriage is amicable, but there’s no love. She meets a guy she loves.
Fast-forward through pretty much the entire book and you get to the bit where she and her love (but especially her, since she’s still technically married) are living in a permanent state of semi-isolation from society. She’s getting all needy because she’s so alone and he’s getting all grumpy because he doesn’t want to be a hermit.
So she kills herself by jumping in front of a train.
Also, some other guy figures out the meaning of life, which is goodness.
Apparently this story was publish serially, which makes the horrifically sedate pace a bit more understandable. There’s a lot of uselessness in it because you have to include a ton of BS in serial publications, I guess. (Although JRR Tolkein seemed to do okay with his. Maybe that’s because I’m more interested in what the hideaway of a dying Elvin race looks like than I am in the daily life of some old mean hag who’s living out her last few decades in a Russian coastal town…)
Also, I read elsewhere that Anna Karenina was one of those “bridge” type books, one of the very first modernist novels. It did a few things that hadn’t really been done before, including stream-of-consciousness narration. Unfortunately for Tolstoy, this work is more interesting as a historical event than as a story.
In short, here’s one of those rare books that would be MORE interesting if taught in a university classroom. (Jane Austen’s entire body of work falls under the same category, though, so I guess I shouldn’t be too harsh.)
I’m thinking the mash-up of Anna Karenina might be an awesomely appropriate follow-up to this tortorous couple of months, though…
Anyone read this? Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was pretty sweet.