Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Anna Karenina (the 820 page SAGA SOAP)!

Title: Anna Karenina
Author: Leo Tolstoy
Pages: 817
Completed: March, 10th, 2008
Yearly Count: 8
Rated: 3/5

Okay, okay! I finished it!! That is an amazing feeling, or it should be....but this time it wasn't. I know Anna Karenina is hailed here, there and everywhere but to me it lacked that striking aspect that holds on to your eyes even when you should be putting the book down. I could put it down and then I had to open it and re-open it many times in order to try to get into the lives of the people that it embraced.

For the first 300 pages I really didn't like the book very much, after that I started enjoying it, I began trying much harder to see the value, and feel the love. So, from about page 300 until page 697 it was all "okay", but at that page...when Tolstoy tarnished my last hope of having the book contain one person of quality, it fell apart for me. I think my feelings were abused by the author one too many times and I felt mistreated and really manipulated as a reader. I felt that he had to do this because the book was going to falter, and he wanted a joust. Besides that, almost every night after finishing another section I felt like I had been in a fight with someone because the book is so jam-packed full of arguments, be it with husbands, lovers, mothers, children...it feels like you are submitting yourself to an 817 page long soap opera. well that didn't do it for me. Maybe it will for you, this book is a hit to so many.

I was once told that in order to really embrace a movie or book or play you need to feel like you can relate to someone, or several different people, and on different levels. You need to feel that they are going thought something that you have or just that their personalities are like yours...you need to be them throughout the process. I have felt captured by tons of books, movies, and plays on this principal. In this book I connected with no-one for more than a couple pages. I did at spots with Levin or Kitty, but I did not have that strong connection with them that would hold me.

I think it is excellently written, and it is a powerful testament to what things can come out of disputes, discontent and unresolved issues.The title really should be changed to Anna Karenina: "A book you should read so that you realize that what you think would make you happy, really won't it will destroy you...because you don't know how good you have it now"!

This is a quote pretty much sums up the entire book: "He soon felt that the realization of his desire had given him only a grain of the mountain of happiness he had expected. It showed him the eternal error people make in imagining that happiness it the realization of desires" (p. 465).

Read that quote, learn it...live it...skip Anna Karenina. (that's my advice...if you wanted it)


Marg said...

I really loved this when I read it. I do think it helped that I read it with an online reading group though, because whenever there were sections that were hard to get through (which there were) then you were able to talk it through with the others.

I keep on meaning to reread this, or tackle War and Peace. One of the two anyway!

bethany said...

I am doing it with a book club here in town. for me, I am sorry to say that it did not help that much.
thanks for trying to make me feel better though!! that is very nice.

Jeane said...

I read this a long time ago in high school, and it was difficult. I agree with what you said, to really get into a book you have to relate to one of the characters in some way. I couldn't. Relate.

Trish said...

Wow, I didn't realize this book was so dang long! I've had this on my amazon wish list for quite some time, but I've never felt compelled enough to purchase it--and your review doesn't help. :)

I have a REALLY tough time reading something when I don't realize to any of the characters. Usually I can find *something* but there is an occassional book where I dislike all of the characters, which makes it really hard to continue (can't think of anything off the top of my head).

Move on!! :)

raych said...

Love the review. I started Anna Karenina for the first time years ago, and it was SO HARD! And then, I was half-way through but hadn't picked it up for a few days, and my boyfriend and I broke up and I was going through my room, cleaning out things that reminded me of him and there, sticking out of AK was a love note I'd been using as a bookmark, so I yanked it out and threw it in the trash! How satisfying! It wasn't until the next day that I realized I had no idea where I was in the book, and just quit and put the thing back on the shelf. I read it cover-to-cover a year or so later, but it was still a rough slog.

raych said...

Quick question: how do you get panels on both sides of your blog? I can only put up page elements on the one side, and it's driving me crazy. I feel like that side is so cluttered!

Joe Culbertson said...

Thanks for the word of caution. One of these days I will read a Russian novel, and I'm leaning towards The Brothers Karamazov. Your review reminded me of Fargo, which was such a well-made movie, but I really didn't like it because all the people in it were all up to no good, except the sheriff (she was the one bright spot in the movie for me).

CoversGirl said...

Congratulations on finishing! I couldn't . . . and I don't think I'll try again!

Teri said...

I am opposite of you Bethany. I enjoyed the first part of the book, but am having great difficulty finishing it. I am ONLY on page 369--I've been reading it for about a month now. The more I read the harder it gets to want to pick it up again. I actually am finding myself day dreaming through some of it.

Sure, 3 kids and a husband doesn't always make reading a novel easy, but I would just be making excuses if I said that is why I am not finishing. I do want to finish just so I can say "I DID IT!"