Anna Karenina

by Leo Tolstoy

I finally managed to finish this book, not that it was boring, far from it, but because in the process I decided to read several other books. Tolstoy tells a very interesting story of love, betrayal, politics, farming and life in general. His set of characters includes the who is who of society, the middle class and the peasants.

Anna Karenina is the wife of Alexey Alexandrovitch who is several years her senior. He is a government operative who has been portrayed as being cold and spends very little time with his wife and their son. He gives all his life to his work which for a time, actually for most of the book, things are going on well for him until after he has been cuckolded that the powers that be seem to be ignoring him. Fortunately for him, he is oblivious to being ignored by others in government. He does not realize that his suggestions are being overlooked and every time he starts a conversation, no one seems to be listening. His life is turned upside down when a young soldier, Count Vronsky, falls in love with his wife. I should add Vronsky was taken off his feet when he was going to meet Kitty, a young damsel who had fallen head over heels in love with him and who the mother expected he would marry.

In the beginning Anna and Vronsky keep their affair hidden from the eyes of her husband. As fate would have it, she becomes pregnant with his baby. They decide to tell Alexey who is distraught with this information but acts the gentleman. His only concern is that she does not soil his name and make his life in public unbearable. He, being a believer, doesn’t want to grant her a divorce since he feels this is against his church so they go on living together but under very difficult circumstances. She continues to see Vronsky and says she is disgusted every time Alexey shows up. She has a difficult delivery and is bedridden for a while. While in this state, she writes to her husband, who had left for Moscow to come back. He comes back and she looks like she is dying. He is moved, in a way that we can only describe as spiritual, he forgives her all her faults in the hope she will die and end his troubles without the need of a divorce. She refuses to die, recovers fully and goes on seeing Vronsky. She asks Alexey to allow her to go away with Vronsky which he does but remains with the son.

Kitty who falls in love with Levin, the same guy she had initially left in preference to Vronsky. They get married in a few months and go to live in the country where he has a farm. He is an unbeliever and enjoys having philosophical discussions with Oblonsky, Kitty and Dolly’s brother. He is writing a book on agriculture and the labour situation among the peasants. Kitty is pregnant, they move from the farm back to Moscow to be close to doctors. She is in labour for so long, that Levin, a non believer, in desperation begins to pray for her quick delivery.

Levin’s brother, Nikolay falls sick and dies.

Oblonksy is an irresponsible and absentee husband. Leaves Dolly to fend for their many children while he has fun elsewhere in the political circles in Moscow having sumptuous dinners, attending concerts and basically being a useless father.

Sergey Ivanovitch, Levin’s other brother who lives in Moscow has been working on a book for six years. The reception is so bad, he doesn’t know what to do with his life. He visits Levin in the farm to rest a while.

Countess Lidia Ivanovna volunteers to take care of Alexey’s household. She feels she has found the right person who is going to love her after her first marriage failed miserably, do they ever fail differently by the way?

It is a lovely book. Go read it, that’s an order!

And go watch the movie too


About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

25 thoughts on “Anna Karenina

  1. niquesdawson says:

    Hehe. Nitumie softcopy…


  2. aguywithoutboxers says:

    I think it was high school or undergrad that this was required reading. In other words, it was quite some time back. Thanks for the synopsis! I know I should reread…someday when I have free time…! Take care and love, my friend!


  3. mixedupmeme says:

    I have read it and reread it. One of those books you look at from a different perspective each time. Also saw the movie.
    Like you I usually have several books going at the same time. But old eyes don’t allow too much reading anymore.
    Book on the computer, one for the patio, one for the bedroom and one to read while watching TV. Or rather one to read while hubby watches TV. 🙂


    • makagutu says:

      I decided to forego the movie since I was 1/4 way through the book and didn’t want to kill the fun.
      My computer comes between me and reading. It is always a struggle who wins the war on a daily basis.


  4. john zande says:

    I see the movie advertised on TV all the time, but i’ve never stopped to look.


  5. melouisef says:

    Read it many many years ago….


  6. I read it about a month ago and wasn’t overally impressed. For such a long book, very little happens. There aren’t that many characters and they don’t have that much depth. It is no comparison to War and Peace for example.

    Most of the time people just seem to sit around gossiping. The love story between Kitty and Levin is resolved about halfway through leaving little for them to do for the rest of the book. The pace really slows once Anna and Vronsky run away together and I got a bit bored to be honest.

    Perhaps I’m being too harsh and comparing it too much to War and Peace. A book about war is always going to appeal to me more than one about romance and balls. Just my opinion anyway.


    • makagutu says:

      I haven’t read War and Peace as yet so I can’t compare the two. Anna Karenina tells the story of daily lives. People gossip, some people struggle with disbelief, some write books that are received poorly and some are left by their wives or husbands. I think that is what happens around us and maybe because it is too common you don’t find it appealing.

      Throughout most of the book, Levin struggles with his love for Kitty, desire to improve his farms and the lives of the peasant and later towards the end struggles with his disbelief in the face of his brother’s illness and later Kitty’s difficult delievery.

      About the characters, I think, they were just enough. I read Brothers Karamazov which is almost the same length and has almost the same number of cast though it has a lot going on compared to Anna Karenina.


  7. I read it years ago and enjoyed it!


  8. I think I shall watch the movie : ) Looks good!


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