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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Anna Karenina: Spoiler Alert!

Phew! I have finished Anna Karenina, as of 8:04am this morning.

I don't know if the plot picked up during the last 5% of the book (Kindles don't give you page numbers, only percentages) or if I was merely anticipating reading another book after 5 months with this one, but the last section of the book read much more quickly than the first.

Here's a quick synopsis for those of you who want to talk about this literary behemoth without reading it yourselves. I call these Katie's Klifs - feel free to tell your high school or college-age friends who may be under the gun to write a report on this bad boy. These intellectual insights are totally free! : )

Set in Russia, sometime before WWI.

4 main characters:
Anna - our title character...beautiful and bewitching. Also, married. 
Vronsky - handsome charismatic military fellow
Kitty - contrasted against Anna throughout, wins your heart with her endearing spirit
Levin - country gentleman, soul-searching

Kitty falls in love with Vronsky, believes he will ask her to marry him.
Levin falls in love with Kitty...realizes he is no match for Vronsky's charm.
Vronsky meets Anna (who is married) and falls madly in love.
Kitty and Anna have a falling out.

Anna and Vronsky begin an affair.
Levin asks Kitty to marry him.

Anna's husband discovers the affair...after much hand-wringing and about 1000 pages, Anna leaves her husband.
Kitty and Levin move happily to the country, Kitty gets pregnant.

Anna's husband will not divorce her, she is not accepted in Moscow society.
Vronsky and Anna begin fighting constantly, she takes a lot of opium to sleep.

Kitty has her baby, Levin's struggle to find God is becoming clearer.
Anna leaves Vronsky after a fight, goes to the train station and throws self under train.

Vronsky goes off to war to relieve his grief and suffering.
Kitty and Levin live happily ever after - he believes there is a God.

That's it. I can't say it was my favorite, it doesn't come anywhere close. As for recommending this to YOU to was interesting for sure. But lots and lots of very descriptive passages that were absolutely inconsequential to the plot make me unable to whole-heartedly say it is a must-read.

Have you already read it? What did you think? Are you the kind of reader who skim reads to find out what happens (like me) or do you enjoy reading beautifully descriptive passages in their entirety?

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