I've been wanting to read a Russian Novel for a couple years now but found them intimidating. Last fall I decided that 2017 was going to be the year I did it! I was just determined - even more so once I found out Russian Classics were their own category.
I did get a bit freaked out when I downloaded it to my kindle and it said expected reading time was around 24 hours. I think I would have preferred not to know that! But once I got started, I was surprised by how easy of a read it was, at least it terms of following the story. I guess I just expected to be a lot more confused by the names and the plot that I was. No, I didn't understand all the intricacies of the politics and side stuff but I grasped enough to understand the characters and their reactions. And I couldn't pronounce the names but it wasn't too hard to remember for the most part, who was who. There's a lot of characters and relationships between them and they are all fairly complex people but I felt so immersed in the world that I couldn't help but connect to it all. The chapters are short so it made it easy to just read a few at a time. And the storyline jumps around so much that I never got stuck in a section about the ones I didn't like as much for very long which helped me keep going.
But while it was a technically easier read that expected, the ideas aren't. This is the type of book I could easily see a book club coming together to talk about and if everyone gave a brief synopis, you might not even think they were talking about the same book. For me, it was all about Kitty and Levin. In both cases, I liked the characters to begin with (although not always their choices!) and loved experiencing their life and growth through the story. I found Aleksey's thought process fascinating and I found myself sympathizing with him quite a bit. Anna's sections were actually my least favorite although I was still quite drawn into her story at the end. I stopped many times to think about what I would, or should, do if I were each character and there weren't usually easy answers to that question. Despite being set in a time and place I know very little about, people are people and I felt like this was a fascinating and realistic portrayal of them.
So overall, I loved it! After a bit of research, I had originally wanted to read the Constance Garnett translation and that's what our library's e-book says they have but when you actually got to download it, it's the Pevear (P&V) translation so went with it. This definitely seems like a book I'd love to reread someday so perhaps I'll try that translation next time. I'm pretty sure they'll be a next time - in a decade or two.
Anna Karenina is my Russian Classic selection for the Back to the Classics Challenge over at Books and Chocolate.