Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy: My One-Month Reading Material

If only I could put you into the right mood the instant you clicked open and read this, I would slowly play Ivy by Taylor Swift in the background as you scrolled through this whole post dedicated to a classic book I have recently finished. Ivy has been one of my favorite songs from Taylor's latest album Evermore, while I have started to get quite familiar with Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy since my little acquaintance with Jane Austen's books earlier this year. But what actually fueled me to immediately pick it up, truth to be told, was this brilliant fanmade video here.

Reading Anna Karenina is a journey I would be thrilled to re-enact in the future. Following the story of the name bearer and her relatives in Russia, this book is divided into eight main parts with about thirty chapters each. Part one starts with the marriage of Stepan Oblonsky's being on the brink of divorce after his wife Dolly Alexandrovna discovered proof of his infidelity. Stepan has to rely upon the arrival of his sister, Anna Arkadyevna Karenina, from Petersburg to Moscow to persuade Dolly to forgive him.

Contrary to her sister's agitation, Kitty Alexandrovna is happy and in love. She is now being courted by the handsome and manly Count Alexey Vronsky whose mother will arrive in Moscow shortly. Assuming that Vronsky will ask her hand in marriage soon, Kitty refuses a proposal from a childhood friend, Konstantin Levin, who then goes back to the countryside with a broken heart.

Belonging in the same social circle, Anna and Vronsky meet and interact. Passion and forbidden love then bind them together, and with that, starts one of the world's most famous infidelity stories between the wife of Alexei Karenin, a senior government official, and Alexey Vronsky.

Anna Karenina started out pretty slow yet intriguing. I must confess, reading this book granted me quite a ride of emotion even though I actually felt like an outsider the entire time. It might have explored the story of several main characters, but it seemed hard for me to resonate with any of them on a personal level. So instead, going through the journey from different perspectives like this felt like watching the society functioning and taking notes on what felt relatable and what did not.

In the first few parts, I could somehow sense how exciting it was for Anna to be passionate about someone. I even devoured the chapters with Anna and Vronsky quickly because I was really curious. The tense, the prejudices, the passion... I was well aware that the two were in the wrong, but their parts had been the most interesting until it eventually became sort of toxic and indefinite, just like the portrayal of themselves as a couple.

On the contrary, the dynamic of the other storylines felt steadier. Levin's remarks about the peasants and society were actually a reflection of Tolstoy's, or so I've heard. I was not the biggest fan of Kitty in the beginning, but I started to sympathize with her in the last few parts. Stiva was a social butterfly who, in my opinion, cared about himself more than he cared for Dolly and his kids. The four had their important shares of stories though for me some parts were unnecessarily too long and draggy.

I personally wouldn't label Anna Karenina as my favorite classic of all time but I could comprehend why some call it the greatest book ever written. Throughout the novel, Tolstoy had proved how clever he was with metaphors and symbolism. How he compared Anna's adultery to someone committing a murder; or how he could particularly fit in two very contrasting events in the cycle of lifebirth and deathwas to me very clever.

In conclusion, Anna Karenina was a heavy book that I would probably have enjoyed more if cut a bit shorter. The ending caught me off guard also, so go pick this up if you're a big fan of classic books or have been curious about it for so long.

Actual rating: 3.2