The eighth book in the 2016 Reading Challenge is Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. This is the book that I chose to read this book for the 1800-1899 book selection. In this tragic romance, we are introduced to social class and aristocracy in Imperial Russia.
Anna Karenina is from upper class wealth. However, she is in a loveless marriage leading her to embark upon an affair with a bachelor named Vronsky. As the novel goes on, Anna and Vronsky become more attached to each other. At his insistence, Anna considers leaving her husband. Yet, Anna is afraid of what could happen to her if she does so. She knows that this would bring on disgrace for her family, who would most likely ostracize her. However, her family is already broken up with her sister Kitty having fallen in love with Vronsky. This causes Kitty to fall ill out of heartache for the man that she loves. Kitty becomes more and more aware of Anna and Vronsky’s affair leading to their being more complications for the two. Things get better for Kitty when she meets Levin who marry’s her. The two start to live a happy life together. This causes Anna to question her unloving marriage to her husband. Yet, when Anna’s husband starts to consider a divorce things change. But, not before it is revealed that Anna is dying after a complicated child birth. With her husband unwilling to divorce her and her love for Vronsky too strong, Anna keeps finding herself in a tough spot. Seeing how happy Kitty is with Levin, Anna starts to fall into mental despair. Things start to get worse after a summer with Kitty and Levin, leading Levin to admit he has feelings for Anna. Unfortunately, this leads Kitty to end up in an asylum. As this goes on Anna questions her relationship with Vronsky because of Levin’s attraction to her. Anna and Vronsky break things off leading to her choice to remain with her husband. Sadly, Anna knows that she will not be happy and commits suicide by jumping in front of the train at the same station she met Vronsky.
Leo Tolstoy’s 1877 tragic novel Anna Karenina is a simple story to explain. A young socialite stuck in a marriage that is loveless, finds herself in a man who she knows she can never be happy with. Anna Karenina is a tough read to get through, but this story gives us a glimpse into the high life of Imperial Russia and the consequences that could go with it.