I have officially transported myself into the world of Anna Karenina, though I've yet to formally meet her. I'm still not sure how much I am going to try and read every week, though maybe it's better to just see where I meander to and finally arrive at every Sunday.
First things first. There seems to be a large cast of characters, or maybe it just feels large because everyone has either a really long name or a variety of diminutives that are used as well. Let me orient myself.
Prince Stepán Oblansky, or Stiva, Anna's brother, is a government official. When we first meet him, and he is our introduction into the novel, it's revealed that he has cheated on his wife with their French governess. Dolly, his wife, is unhappy with the situation and ready to leave, but she finds that she still loves him. Stepán seems quite good-natured, and despite his infidelity is quite popular with others. Guilt may weigh on him, but it doesn't exactly show as he is a handsome man. Poor Dolly, though, has lost her looks, and why shouldn't she with five children to care for. She's not remarkable for anything except as a kind mother of a family, we're told.
Dolly is the oldest of the three Shcherbátsky sisters. Her youngest sister, Kitty, is the object of Levin's matrimonial desires. Levin is an old friend of Stepán's who has just arrived in Moscow from the country where he lives to propose marriage to her. The houses of Shcherbátsky and Levin are both noble families and have long been friendly with each other. Unfortunately Kitty is not interested in Levin as husband material.
Enter Count Vrónsky, Levin's rival. An imperial aide-de-campe, he is "one of the finest examples of the gilded youth of Petersburg." He's rich and handsome with excellent connections. On top of that Stepán tells Levin that Vrónsky is not only sweet and nice but cultivated and intelligent.
Somehow the story just got all the more interesting when I read that. I've yet to formally meet him either, but I'm looking forward to it. He sounds rather attractive, doen't he? Whether he'll live up to expectations is yet to be seen.
As Anna is coming to visit her brother and Dolly, she should be arriving soon, and I should get back to the story now.
So far so good. As much as I liked War and Peace, I think I am going to like Anna Karenina more. I like the intimacy of the story and think it will be more about relationships between this cast of characters and Moscow society than battlefield scenes and politics.
The reading is not hard going--it's just long and Tolstoy takes his time telling the story and describing the scene adding all the little details, which I am finding interesting. Not too much in the way of politics in Anna Karenina so far. I only wish there were footnotes rather than notes in the back of the book as I hate flipping back and forth (though I know some people find the notes on the bottom of the page intrusive).
Anna Karenina has become my bus book (and I pick it up at other times, too), which means it is a nice little weight to carry around with me. At least it is a paperback.
Not quite fifty pages in, but I am enjoying it so far and expect it to get better as I go. Has anyone else been reading? If so, what are your experiences so far?
Edited: I'm happy to see so many people are reading along-this should make things fun and much more meaningful to get different perspectives. I wasn't going to suggest how far anyone read during the week, but I wonder if it might be good to have some loose plan if only so we can discuss roughly the same sections together? It doesn't matter at all if you decide to read ahead or read slower, but I'll try each week to let everyone know about how far I am so we can avoid or warn about possible spoilers in case we're not all in the same place. I think I will aim for 50-70 pages a week, but that may be adjusted if life becomes hectic. Happy reading everyone (whether you are reading Anna K or not).