Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

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This book was originally published in 8 parts and having just finished the 815 page marathon that is Anna Karenina you can understand why. This is a book that has long been on my ‘to read’ list and I finally got round to reading it and I wasn’t disappointed. The individual chapters within the parts of the book are nice and short which makes even the slowest reader feel like they have achieved something and the story constructed in such a way that you can never only read one chapter no matter how short a time frame you have.

Anna Karenina is regarded as one of the greatest novels ever written and it is easy to understand why – the complex inner thoughts of even the most perfunctory characters have been through to an extremely high level and the interweaving stories of the main protagonists give the book depth. Like War and Peace it obviously has underlying meanings for those who wish to explore them, as Tolstoy never wrote a text without an ulterior motive, but for those who want to take it at face value it has a great story at its heart.

I should really say it had great stories at its heart as although the title points to the story of Anna and Vronsky, the interweaving tale of Kitty and Levin is also engaging and enthralling. This, unfortunately, is where my criticism of the book rears its head – the ending. Of the 60 pages that occur after Anna’s death about 45 of them, in my opinion, are superfluous and there is much in part 8 that could have been left out. Despite this I would heartily recommend this classic – the praise of Tolstoy’s seminal novel has not been exaggerated by either myself of the numerous critics who have reviewed it before me.

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