Book Review: Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina

This novel has one of my favorite opening lines:

“All happy families are alike but an unhappy family is unhappy after its own fashion.  Everything had gone wrong in the Oblonsky household. The wife had found out about her husband’s relationship with their former French governess and had announced that she could not go on living in the same house with him…”

Immediately, Tolstoy plunges us into a very unhappy situation, with a weeping wife, an uncomfortably guilty husband (forced to sleep on a morocco-leather couch in his study) and various people (including the husband’s sister Anna Karenina) who come to try and calm the situation.

annakareninaOf course, the novel is not really about Prince Stepan Oblonsky or his wife Dolly. Instead, it is a classically constructed tragedy about his sister Anna, her own unhappy marriage to a cold man, and her search for happiness.  Like a classical tragedy, we first meet Anna when she has position, money, family and her son to sustain her Then we see her gradually throw everything away in her pursuit of passion until she has nothing left.

This is a great novel that tells us much about the stifling lives that respectable women were forced to endure in the nineteenth century (the novel was written in 1873). It would make a perfect gift for a person of any age.
–Cynthia Haggard writes short stories, novels and poetry.  During the day, she is a medical writer and owns her own business.  For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories.  For more about her medical writing services, go to clarifyingconcepts.  (c) 2009. All rights reserved.

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