I finished Anna Karenina.
Now, to refresh your memory, a million years ago, I figured up 91 books to make me smarter and then started the ill-attended, virtual book club (there's even a pseudo-book report to fill out for The Princess Bride!). And then, THREE F*ING YEARS AGO, I started reading Anna Karenina... as Book #2.
I didn't know there was a need for spoiler alerts on classic novels, but when I told The [extremely well-read] G "well, you know, Anna has an affair and kills herself" as a prologue to my ranty retelling, he was a little surprised.
Other fun spoilers: Frankenstein isn't the monster's name and DOCTOR Frankenstein is an asshole, and Huck Finn ISN'T dead.
So I'm a little behind on my book reports. #historyrepeating
Anna, as I loathingly will refer to the book, is dreadfully boring until page 351 (in my 800 page version), where a fairly minor character is described, at the bottom of the page, as a "big glossy green Dutch... [turn the page]... cucumber".
Apparently this is where Tolstoy remembered people actually want obvious plot progression, character development, and witty and insightful prose.
Then it got interesting. There's antisocial artists, boorish aristocrats, death-bed confessions, births, weddings, mysterious wealth, morphine, psychics, and of course, suicide.
Anna, the character, is introduced to you as an extroverted, life-of-the-party, delightful lady who happens to be married to a total bummer of the guy who she generally ignores to attend balls and concerts and visit society types. Poor Anna, you think. Life would be pretty good without that lame, old husband of yours, you pity.
But no. Anna is the worst. SHE IS THE WORST. She's a jealous, crazy harlot who has no sense of consequence. I went from kind of wanting to party with her to counting the pages until she hit that damn train station.
On the other hand, Levin, this dude who starts out as the most awkward, loner, country mouse, working man you would NEVER want to party with, turns into the sweetest, relatable, lovely, loving, hard-working antagonist EVER. Love him. He's the perfect antidote to Anna's self-centered, defeatist, depressing, spiteful life.
Why couldn't the book be named "Konstantin Dmitrich Levin"?
No? Too much? Doesn't exactly roll off the tongue like Annakarenina.
There was, as expected, some great discourse on politics, economy, religion and faith, distribution of wealth, and all those meaty topics. I have several pages folded down that I've actually looked at since, because I found them so clever and inspiring. On the small scale, I especially liked the insights to the male mind from Levin's perspective on his wedding and the birth of his first child.
Do I recommend the book? Yes. Would I lock you in a well-lit closet and slip you tasty snacks and beverages to make you finish it? If you asked me.
Next up: Lolita (the most shoplifted book, according to my second-hand book store owner)
And then: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (I've wanted to read this one FOREVER)
In case you were wondering what the stupid list is: