It took me 10 months to read. I barely remember the beginning.
Anna is unhappy in her marriage. Anna’s brother’s wife’s sister, Kitty, thinks she’s going to marry a guy named Vronsky. Anna and Vronsky begin an affair. Drama ensues.
The book revolves around the fallout of the affair and Anna’s subsequent “fall from grace” after she chooses love over her place in high society.
Anna and Vronsky were insufferable. Their entire arc was them progressing from pretty sucky to downright awful. I wanted to sympathize with Anna because she unfairly suffered the brunt of gossip and shunning (society at that time), but she was passive-aggressive and self-absorbed. Vronsky was just…blah.
Everyone else was okay, even Anna’s shallow and ridiculous brother. He did dumb shit, but it didn’t feel spiteful. I didn’t have much of an opinion on him or most characters, although Kitty was probably my favorite. She starts off immature, but grows up and goes through major personal growth.
This book could have been (at least) 200 pages shorter. Tolstoy rambles and it usually feels like he’s dumping in his own personal philosophies. Or his characters are having spiritual crisis (looking at you, Levin) which feel suspiciously like Tolstoy’s.
Plus, the blushing. Characters were blushing left and right, to the point I was alarmed for their health. The agitation alone took up about 50 pages, I’m sure.
On a positive note: The basic story (affair/scandal) is a solid idea and I appreciate Tolstoy’s ability to write sweeping sagas with a trillion characters. And while this is obviously a cumbersome read, the only parts I found outright unreadable (at least from what I can remember) were the sections about politics. A bunch of men standing around arguing and trying to one-up each other…hmmm.
Watching the 2012 movie version with Keira Knightley and Jude Law, because nothing says Russian saga like British accents.
In case you’re interested:
I read WAR AND PEACE years ago and here’s my review for that. I enjoyed it more than ANNA, or as much as one can enjoy a paperweight of classic literature.