The length of this Anna Karenina book might put off many Book Clubs but don't let this happen to you for this is one of the great books of Literature.
This is epic! It's a big thick book with very small writing and at times it was a struggle for some of our book club members. Keep going!
I was sorry when the story ended & carried on thinking about the various characters & situations long after putting the book down
The story revolves round various families & from their interactions, we learn so much about life, about status, about ambition, about education, about passion or the lack of it, etc etc.
The action takes place in Russia in both Moscow & St. Petersburgh in the mid 1800's, though the actions, thoughts & decisions of the characters could place them anywhere at any time in History.
However from the setting, we learn much of interest about Russian politics, ideology & way of life.
These are many & varied but all are as recognisable today as they were at the time of the story. They are all well developed during this long novel, including the lesser yet important characters.
Tolstoy's power of description isn't reserved just for his wonderful description of the countryside but is also there for his characters. He was brilliant at understanding people; their actions, motives, sensitivities, ideas, manipulation, goodness & wickedness etc.
There are numerous themes in this Anna Karenina book, far too many to list here but they include society, family, marriage, passion, jealousy, town v country, the role of women, education, hypocrisy, economics, values etc.
Tolstoy explores these timeless themes, looking at unhappy marriages which lead to adultery & sexual passion which ultimately have far reaching effects on the children & families involved.
The writer explores the role of education & through Levin, discusses education for the peasants.
The role of women.
We meet several women & discover their roles in Russian society where they have little or no power. We see the double standards of their society where Anna is rejected by society whilst Vronsky is not!
There are many contrasts in this novel, particularly the one between men & women, best illustrated by the acceptance of man's behaviour but not the woman's.
Town versus country
This is probably the biggest contrast in the novel. Life in the town might be more exciting but it is in the countryside that people clear their minds, think carefully & are subsequently more satisfied & happy. We learn such a lot about the peasants who work on the land & their lot in life.
We found this article useful too from our web research
1. Tolstoy explores the effects of adultery & passion on the family. Are the effects the same today?
3. What do you think Tolstoy wants us to learn about living in the country as opposed to living in the town?
4. The characters in this story have been described as universal & timeless. Do you agree?
5. There are many themes in this novel but which one had more of an impact on you?
6. Do you find Vronsky or Levin more appealing?
7. To what extent do Tolstoy's descriptions of the seasons add to the story?
A struggle for some of the working Mums to get through this epic novel in the 6 week allotted time.
That said, those that managed to read it, absolutely loved it and felt rewarded for continuing on.
So overall it scored 6/10 but those that did complete it, gave it a resounding 9/10.
Don't neglect this long novel! Choose it perhaps during the summer holiday when members can take it on holiday to read on the 'plane or on the beach. Then choose a shorter novel next time.
All life is in this wonderful novel AND there will be so much to discuss at the meeting.
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