Anna Karenina – book review (ish)

I’m just a girl standing in front of a book, asking it to love her. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Either way, this week’s lucky suitor is Anna Karenina, that classic white whale of a book. While hailed as one of the most romantic novels of all time, I found it astoundingly wise but astoundingly unromantic.

Kiss, marry, or kill? Worth a 😘
“Easy” read? No, it’s really not, which will surprise no one except people who are faking it.
Love at first line? I mean, yes, it’s a very good first line.
Most attractive trait? It’s an incredibly wise book that shows a lot of compassion for its deeply unlikeable characters.
Character I’d swipe right on? Varenka, Kitty’s kind and selfless friend who just seemed lovely and like she could use somebody to look after her for a change.
Character I’d swipe left on? Like all the men. All of them. Every. Last. One.
Ideal reading date? This requires a cosy bed, a big glass of wine or mug of tea, and candle-light. Or depending on how much you like your irony, it’s a great train read.

More on that:

I admit I found a lot of this book dry and I’m not fully convinces the people who love it as a romance have any idea what they just read, but I did find it wise, and at times extremely poignant, and I’m glad I stuck out the month and a half it took me to get through.

I’m not going to give you a review Anna Karenina, I honestly just don’t think you need it, people have written books on this book. But I’d like to share all the tidbits I highlighted, the things that still feel relevant, that will stick with me from this inarguable classic, instead.

On existentialism and depression: “All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.”

On perfection paralysis: “There came over him for an instant a doubt of the possibility of arranging a new life, of which he had been dreaming of down the road. All these traces of his life seemed to clutch him: ‘No, you’re not going to get away from us and you’re not going to be different, but you’re going to be the same as you’ve always been; with doubts, everlasting dissatisfaction with yourself, vain efforts to amend, and falls, and everlasting expectation, of a happiness which you won’t get and which isn’t possible for you.’

This the things said to him, but another voice in his heart was telling him that he must not fall under the sway of the past, and that one could do anything with oneself.”

On people who don’t read: “It was distaateful to her to read, that is, to follow the reflection of other people’s lives. She had too great a desire to live herself.”

On anxiety, depression and catastrophising: “I know it’s not the truth, but I can’t drive away such thoughts.”

On love: “They ought to find out how to vaccinate for love, like smallpox.”

Also on love: “Without out love, for us there is neither happiness nor unhappiness – no life at all.”

On love, again: “If one loves anyone, one loves the whole person, just as they are and not as one would like them.”

On men: “I often think men have no understanding of what’s not honourable, though they’re always talking of it.”

On duty: “Either you are so undeveloped that you can’t see all you can do, or you won’t sacrifice your ease, your vanity, or whatever it is, to do it.”

On comparing yourself: “‘How I should like to know other people just as I know myself!’ said Anna seriously and dreamily. “Am I worse than other people, or better? I think I’m worse.”

On commitments: “When his love was stronger, he could, if he had greatly wished it, have torn that love out of his heart; but now, when as at the moment it seemed to him he felt no love for her, he knew that what bound him to her could not be broken.”

On responsibility: “But it is hard for anyone who is dissatisfied not to blame someone else, and especially the person nearest of all to him, for the ground of his dissatisfaction.”

On imposter syndrome: “All that day it seemed to her as though she were acting in a theatre with actors cleverer than she, and that her bad acting was spoiling the whole performance.”

On self-sabotage: “For an instant she had a clear vision of what she was doing, and was horrified at how she had fallen away from her resolution. But even though she knew it was her own ruin, she could not restrain herself.”

On projecting: “All the most cruel words that a brutal man could say, he said to her in her imagination, and she could not forgive him for them, as though he had actually said them.”

On toxic relationships: “We are drawn apart by life, and I make his unhappiness, and he mine, and there’s no altering him or me.”

On heartache: “And again, at the old sore places, hope and then despair poisoned the wounds of her tortured, fearfully throbbing heart.”

On goodness: “If goodness has causes, it’s not goodness; if it has effects, a reward, it is not goodness either. So goodness is outside the chain of cause and effect.”

 

Hardcopy | Ebook | Audiobook

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