Saturday, May 21, 2011

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


I am reading Anna Karenina and made a pact with a family member to read 2 chapters per day (5 days/week) to finish it in approximately 5 months.  Whenever we would get close to the end of each Part (there are 8 total), we would read the additional 3-4 chapters to finish the Part and start with the next Part the following week. Once in awhile I'd get behind a little and then get caught up the next week.   I had a couple of bad weeks where I kind of lost track of how far behind I was, but I think I'm a little ahead of schedule now and should be finishing up this coming week.

I found a trick to help me get through the book faster.  I subscribed to a Podcast from LibriVox where all of the chapters are recorded in separate audio files, and I started listening to it during my morning walks.  I could listen to 4-5 chapters each morning and then pick up in my book wherever I left off.  I just finished Part 7, so there's only one more to go!  I am reviewing each part as I go so I don't forget what I've read by the end. When I'm done, I'll put the separate reviews together for my Amazon review.

Part VII - Review
*WARNING: This review contains spoilers.


I have found that my interest level in this book has gone up and down depending on the story line.  There have been times when the plot would become really interesting and I wouldn't want to put the book down.  And then there have been times where 3-5 chapters seem to go on forever and it would take everything in me to continue reading.  The main themes I have disliked have been farming, hunting and, recently, politics.  The political discussions ended at the beginning of Part 7 and the plot became interesting again. Here's what happens:

Levin and Kitty are in Moscow waiting for Kitty to deliver their first baby.  One evening after drinking and gambling Stiva talks Levin into going to meet Anna, against Levin's better judgement.  Levin enjoys meeting Anna, but knows he has made a wrong decision when he tells Kitty where he had been.  Kitty is jealous.

Jealousy begins to cause a strain on Anna's relationship with Vronsky.  She is sure he has fallen in love with another woman while he is out doing whatever he wants and she has lost ties with all of her social connections due to her "position," which is a word used frequently in the book.

Kitty gives birth to a son, Dmitri.  Levin is surprised by his feelings of disgust towards the baby, rather than love. Kitty becomes sick after childbirth.

Stiva is struggling for money and goes to visit Karenin to ask for a new post.  He also asks Karenin to grant Anna a divorce.  Karenin declines.

Anna becomes more jealous towards Vronsky and begins thinking of suicide.  She goes to visit Dolly to talk with her about what is going on and finds Kitty there.  She is too proud to open up about these issues with Kitty around and thinks Vronsky is still in love with Kitty.  Her thoughts become irrational and at the end Anna commits suicide by throwing herself in the way of a passing train, similar to a scene from the beginning of the book.  

You can read my reviews for the previous Parts here:

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI