Anna Karenina: not my cup of vodka.

by Amy M.

According to What to Expect When You’re Expecting, the “brain cell volume of pregnant women actually decreases during the third trimester of pregnancy, only to plump up a few months after delivery.”  Maybe I should’ve waited until after Eliza’s birth to read Anna Karenina, because it took every ounce of effort to get through this never-ending novel.

It’s difficult for me to admit that I didn’t find this book captivating.  After all-I majored in English!  I’m supposed to love the richness, complexity, beauty, and sadness of this novel.  And to be fair–aspects of it were wonderful.  Two characters in particular were magnificent, and I felt invested in their interwoven fates.  But many of the characters were frustratingly stagnant, and there wasn’t much action to propel the plot forward.  To make matters worse, each character has about 10 different names, depending on the social situation.  After awhile, I just gave up trying to keep them straight.

If my glowing review has enticed you to read this book, here is a word of advice:  do NOT read the introduction if you have this version:

Anna Karenina

My knowledge of Russian literature is very limited, so I was hoping the introduction would provide some useful background and context.  In addition to doing that, it tells you exactly what happens to Anna Karenina at the end!  I realize this is a very famous novel and many people are familiar with the ending, whether or not they’ve read the book.  Somehow, I wasn’t, and let me tell you–it’s not easy to get through an 800-page novel when the ending has been spoiled for you.  Thanks a lot, Penguin Classics!

One night after reading a few chapters, I fell asleep and dreamed I was responsible for taking a group of 19th century Russian aristocrats on a tour of Corpus Christi.  They wore fancy outfits, talked a lot, and drank vodka–which is what they do in the book.

Moral of the story:  When you read Anna Karenina, even your dreams are boring.

Somehow, the new movie version of this novel looks excellent, probably because the boring stuff has been cut out. I’m actually looking forward to seeing it!