Book Reviews

So many books (you know the rest)

Anna Karenina
by Leo Tolstoy
Published in 1877 (I finished it on December 10, 2010)

After being enthralled with War & Peace, I wanted to dive into another Tolstoy novel. Someone strongly recommend Anna Karenina. I knew of this novel, but no real details. Sure, why not. I’ll read it. Yeah, two years later. Why not? Because it’s slow and quite boring. Hard to believe it’s the same author as W&P.

It’s long—way too long. Complete sections just drag on and on with a frequent nudge for you to wake up. It’s tedious. Some areas just drone on about political meetings—I mean just the most minute uninteresting things you could think of. Yeah, they’re all in there. It’s almost comical how some of meetings just get into such mundane tasks.

The characters are certainly deep and complex, but most aren’t really likeable—unless you’re into affairs where innocent hard-working mothers get hurt. I found myself not caring what happens to some of the key principals. In fact, some of the suicides are almost welcome just to put the reader out of his misery. And let’s face it—half the people in the novel are far from happy. They’re sad, whiny people, who seek love in the wrong places, and expect you to listen to their pathetic rationalizing.

That said, there are some good things too.

Many of the players are simply searching for the truth or enlightenment. Thus, they look in the wrong places. They become frustrated with not finding the right solutions. They seek God; they seek answers. It’s a timeless quest and constant throughout the novel. You’re repeatedly teased when they come close to getting it right, but then digress over and over.

Certainly, you get a fantastic glimpse of the period. That’s well done. Classes are represented nicely with a strong yearning of connection or at least better understanding from the upper to lower class. It’s as if the peasants hold more of the answers to happiness.

All in all, it wasn’t a novel that I enjoyed reading. Nevertheless, it was one that I needed to read.