Time Out from Tolstoy

anna kareninaI was hanging out with my dear friends Renee and Sean a couple weeks ago. I asked them:

“Y’all have read Anna Karenina, right? I’m about 1/3 of the way through it, and I have to ask: Does it get better?”

Sean replied, “What on earth do you mean? I absolutely loved every word of it!”

I said, “But it’s so…bleak.”

Renee laughed. “What did you expect? It’s a Russian novel!” 

I sighed. “I don’t know. I guess I was hoping for epic and tragic.”

Renee laughed again. “Yeah…well…it is an amazing book. But bleak is a very appropriate word to describe it.”


I only made it about halfway through Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina before I had to stop. I felt a little foolish setting it aside. A little like a literary lightweight.

But I needed to read about two hours of it every day to stay on target to finish it in the month of August. (I love the “percentage” tracking on Kindle!) That left me little or no time to read anything else.

It started affecting my psyche. And not in a good way.

So alas, I will not be writing about my reflections on Anna Karenina this month. I hadn’t heard from anyone else that you were reading it along with me, so hopefully no one else is disappointed. (Just me.)

Maybe one day I’ll finish it. For now I’m hunting down a copy of Lucy Maud Montomery’s Anne of Green Gables for September. Hopefully a much lighter read!

In the meantime…would anyone else like to share their thoughts on Anna Karenina?

7 thoughts on “Time Out from Tolstoy

  1. It is no surprise to you that I love Russian literature. But… I HATE Anna Karenina. I don't blame you a bit. I just hope that you give the Russians another try. Might I recommend Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky. I prefer him to Tolstoy, hands down.

    ….and, I think you were wise for putting it down in light of your reaction. Humility. Wisdom. I admire you, Stephanie.


  2. Absolutely agree with Cheryl. HATED Anna. Mostly because I hate Anna and Vronsky. Kitty and Levin are the only redeeming characters in the book. However, anything by Dostoyevsky is better. Although, fair warning–bleakness awaits in just about any Russian lit. My fave is The Master and Margarita. I think you should start with that!


  3. I feel like it is the best, most well-written book I've ever read. (But I personally like the story of Brothers better.) It took me a year, but I really enjoyed the depth of the characters. I couldn't believe that someone could just create all that. But, it was bleak and I wouldn't read it again. But when I finished I felt like, “wow, this guy was a genius.” But my al time favorite book is Gilead. It's incredible!!


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