Tuesday, February 8, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (Part I)

I made a pact with a family member to read two chapters of Anna Karenina every day (5 days/week) to finish it in approximately 5 months.  We're currently five weeks in and just entered Part II last week.  Until this point, I didn't even realize the book had EIGHT parts!  I decided it would be best for me to review the book after each part so I don't forget what I read by the end.  Then I'll put the separate reviews together for my Amazon review.


MY REVIEW - ANNA KARENINA - PART I

In this first part we meet the following characters:

Prince Stepan Arkadyevitch Oblonsky ("Stiva") – A civil servant who has cheated on his wife with the family's governess.  He is Anna's brother.

Princess Darya Alexandrovna Oblonskaya ("Dolly") – Stepan's wife (and mother of his 5 children) who has just discovered the affair and is very distraught.

Konstantin Dmitrievitch Levin ("Kostya") – Childhood friend of Stiva who comes to visit from the country.  He has come to ask Kitty to marry him. 

Countess Vronskaya – Vronsky's mother, only in the story briefly as she traveled with Anna by train.  Not sure if she'll come back into the story later.

Princess Ekaterina Alexandrovna Shcherbatskaya ("Kitty") – Dolly's younger sister who is conflicted by her feelings for Levin and, simultaneously, Vronsky.  She rejects Levin's marriage proposal.

Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky – A man with a charming personality who Kitty believes is a better suitor, but who does not have intentions to marry Kitty.  He follows Anna home and confesses his love for her on the train.

Anna Arkadyevna Karenina – Stepan Oblonsky's sister who comes to visit, helps Dolly and Stiva repair their relationship, and leaves abruptly at the end when she and Vronsky become attracted to one another.

Nikolai Levin – Konstantin's brother

Sergius Ivanich Koznyshev – Konstantin's half-brother

Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin – Anna's husband, who we meet briefly at the end.  It is apparent that Anna may be falling out of love with him.  

Sergei Alexeyitch Karenin ("Seryozha") – Anna and Karenin's 8-year-old son

I had tried to read this book a few years ago, but couldn't get into it. This time, I almost gave up at chapter 5, but once I got through it, the chapters and the story line seemed to move along pretty quickly. It's definitely an interesting story, just difficult to read because it was written in Russian in 1873. The translation I am reading is slightly awkward at times, but I'm glad I am reading it on my Kindle where I can look up words I don't know. For example, Stepan had an affair with a "governess." I wasn't completely sure what that meant, so I looked it up and found that a governess is a woman who is employed to teach the children, similar to a nanny, but she is there for their educational needs, not their physical ones. 

Overall, I am enjoying the book so far.