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Anna Karenina

On Monday, March 5th the Booked for the Day book group met to discuss Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, while nibbling Russian Tea Cakes and chocolates (provided by Julie!).

Everyone agreed that they enjoyed the book but unfortunately because of its length, not everyone was able to finish.

We talked about the characters in the story whom we sympathized with and the ones we did not.

  • The group had a hard time sympathizing with Anna, partially due to her reaction to Annie. We did not think she was a great mother. We had a hard time understanding how she could love her son but not her daughter, especially since Annie was the daughter of the man she loved. We also thought it was odd that she was going to get revenge on Vronsky by killing herself and could not understand how that would give her satisfaction.
  • Stiva, Anna’s brother, was another character that was not sympathetic.  Stiva was able to have an affair without consequences while Anna was ostracized. Stiva spent all of his and Dolly’s money on his needs without taking into consideration the family’s needs, especially the children’s. And when Stiva went to Karenin to talk to him about his and Anna’s divorce, he was more concerned about being agreeable to Karenin because he wanted Karenina to recommend him for a more lucrative position in the government.
  • Karenin we did not like because of his disinterest in his son until it suited his needs. He did not want to give Seryozha up mainly to punish Anna, and prior to that he was not interested in the child. We did like the way he forgave Anna and Vronsky when he thought Anna was dying. It was at this point that he said he would give Anna her divorce but later changed his mind under the influence of Countess Ivanovna. The situation with Ivanovna was also odd and somewhat bizarre.
  • Tolstoy made the character of Levin so likeable because Tolstoy based the character of Levin on his own life. Both Levin and Tolstoy had a spiritual awakening during their life. Levin was the heart of the story and represented all things good and right. Levin, who appeared to be a gentle man, always felt more at peace in the country than he did in the city. He was also the one who suggested that Kitty give Dolly her inheritance since Dolly and her children were in need and Kitty would never have to worry about finances.
  • The group as a whole did not care about Vronsky. We did not think that Vronsky cheated on Anna but that it was Anna’s imagination due to her morphine addiction.  Even though they had a perfect life in the country, both Vronsky and Anna seemed to need more. Love was not enough; it seemed that they both craved social recognition.
  • The group thought the book could have ended with Anna’s death and everyone thought that Tolstoy’s philosophy in the last few chapters could have been left out. But we all agreed it was definitely worth the read.

Please feel free to add any more thoughts in the comments section and don’t forget the DVD is coming out on March 19.

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Anna Karenina

sonya-tolstayaLeo_Tolstoy_in_uniformWhen Tolstoy was 34, he courted and married 18-year-old Sonya Andreevna Behrs, the daughter of a former friend.  Most readers of Anna Karenina are interested to learn that many of the details of Kitty and Levin’s romance, courtship and marriage are drawn from the author’s relationship with his wife Sonya.

Like Levin’s love for the Shcherbatskys, which first drew him to friendship with the older brother, then admiration for Dolly and finally marriage to Kitty, Count Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy picked out the family he would marry into before he actually chose his bride. He had always planned to marry one of the daughters of his childhood sweetheart, Liubov Behrs. Although the family expected him to choose the eldest daughter, Lisa, Tolstoy found himself captivated instead by the middle sister, Sonya. He began to fall for Sonya when she was still a child of 14: “If she were four years older, I would propose to her now,” he wrote to a friend. Four years later he did propose.

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