Anna Karenina (Book Review)

Written by Michelle Watson

June 1, 2024

You’ll love it if
you want to grapple with big questions on an intimate level.

This book review contains affiliate links. Here’s my disclosure policy.

Anna Karenina

By Leo Tolstoy

Plot & Pacing
Writing Craft
Moral Value

We see how love, loss, and jealousy play out in the lives of an interconnected group of Russians

I don’t usually go into a book this long on a whim, but I did this time. I thought I’d listen to a little of the audiobook to see if I liked the narration, and then, I thought, maybe I’d start it for real in 2024. Before I knew it, I was through part one and totally invested.

I think the short chapters propelled me on. And it was great listening on audio because the complex names didn’t trip me up. Also, this book has that “train wreck” quality that makes it impossible to NOT gawk. I just zoomed through!

This book probably hits everyone differently, but, for me, the central question of the book is “What do we live for?” Ourselves? Our passions? Our families, work, religion? Do we live for God? Each character grapples with this at some point, and I love that there are no tidy answers.

It was fascinating to watch Anna go from a “good” woman to a “bad” one. To watch her get increasingly self-centered and consequently more unhappy and paranoid. When you look at her, you realize that it can happen to anyone. Easily.

I love how life is portrayed in all its complexity and how everyone’s life seems both good and bad, one way from the outside and another way from the inside. And it’s always changing.

Content warnings: Nothing is portrayed graphically. The book deals heavily with adultery, but there are no bedroom scenes. There are some gristly deaths, one of which is suicide.

I haven’t seen the movie yet—is it good?


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