Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

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Rate: 3/5

Medium: Audiobook

Overview (No Spoilers): Once upon a time in graduate school, circa 2012, a group of my graduate fellow graduate students and I ventured out of our dark labs to watch the newest movie to hit the theatres, Anna Karenina, starring Keira Knightley and Jude Law. After shedding many tears and loving the story, despite the heartbreaking conclusion, my coworker and good friend Jayda soon let me borrow her copy of this classic. Alas, the book in question proceeded to collect dust on my bookshelf ever since. I was reminded of the neglected Anna Karenina upon perusing my local library’s selection of audiobooks, with the specific intent of finding a classic I had yet to read. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed my first foray into a Tolstoy novel, quickly becoming immersed in the extremely detailed, drama filled lives of key characters, e.g., Anna, Dolly, Kitty, Vronskey. I particularly appreciated how feelings toward specific characters, from the perspective of the reader, evolved over time. For example, initially I was charmed by Anna, coming under her spell, as did every character she encountered throughout the text. However, as the story proceeded, I found my feeling toward this tragic character shift from adoration toward sympathy, before taking on various shades of annoyance, pity and frustration. Additionally, my analytical mind was in paradise with the level of detail and complex relationships employed by Tolstoy to weave his masterpiece. One of my favorite sections was centered on Konstantin’s musings on hard work as he was cutting the hay with the peasants. The audiobook for Anna Karenina was approximately 35 hours long, however the last ten hours or so seemed to drag after the main character relationship dramas had been resolved, leaving the final long chapters to be consumed by long monologues, ruminating on political and religious philosophies. Overall, despite being a rather lengthy undertaking, Anna Karenina was beautifully elegant in construction, yet tragically heartbreaking in conclusion.


  1. I had to chuckle when you said you liked the bits about farming, because that’s what I disliked the most about Anna Karenina! Konstantin always seemed to view the hard work of farming as this idyllic thing, but having grown up in a farming community I’m well aware of the constant drudgery involved with farmwork. It’s not idyllic to my eyes!

    It took me literally years to finish this book, and like you, I was both captivated and frustrated in turns and ended up enjoying the movie more than the book. I like Russian composers, but I’m not so fond of Russian authors!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yet another wonderful example of people reading the same material and being impacted differently! 🙂 I grew up on a farm too! I liked the section about farming because I could relate to the feelings/emotions Konstantin when through with regard to fatigue before ultimate satisfaction while mowing hay from my experiences growing up baling straw or picking up rocks. I guess I should have clarified exactly what I liked about that section. 🙂

      Honestly, I might not have finished this book if it had not been for the audiobook formatting. Some of the political/religious based monologues became rather tedious.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ha! I remember what farmwork I did as being hot, muddy, and riddled with mosquitoes! Now, working in the garden? /That/ was far more satisfying. And shadier!

        The monologues almost did me in, too. So much propaganda! I just wanted to get back to Anna or Konstantin, though I think I skimmed a lot of those passages so I could get back to the plot..

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  2. I have this sitting on my shelves but I’ve never actually picked it up to start it! I wouldn’t mind listening to an audiobook of it but I’m fussy about the reader sometimes so I haven’t looked for a copy.

    It sounds like a good read! I used to have a friend who lived on a farm. I can kind of see the idyllic side but also it’s mostly just a lot of hard work and tiring days! Do love farm cats and horses though!

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    • I’m super picky about narrators. There is an audible version read by Maggie Gyllenhaal. If you don’t want to pay, has books in the public domain, but the narrators are all volunteers, so it’s hit or miss.

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    • The narrator in the version I listened to was Nadia May who I thoroughly enjoyed! I agree. A good narrator can make or break an audiobook. I had to laugh when I started recognizing the same narrator reading different books.

      I grew up on a farm! I liked the section about farming because I could relate to the feelings/emotions Konstantin when through while mowing hay from my experiences growing up baling straw or picking up rocks. Farm kittens are the best! ❤

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    • I completely agree Judith! While I did grow attached to most characters, it didn’t stop me from having significant moments of annoyance with all of them at some point!


  3. Thanks for visiting my blog this morning! I am hoping to attempt Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” sometime soon in the future! I find that long classic novels lend themselves to audiobook!

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  4. Another of my guilty secrets: apart from the earlier chapters… need I say more?
    I started War and Peace, and then TV serialised it as I was reading: they covered my bedtime’s reading in one episode! Faint heart, and all that – ok, but time waits for no one, too

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  5. Interesting review.

    I read it as a audio book a while ago and concur with your point that is rather overlong and not much happens for the last 10 hours !!
    35 hours doesn’t have to be a long duration for an audio-book but in this case it is 😉

    Are you planning to read any other Tolstoy?

    The Science Geek

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Interesting review Sarah! I am glad that I have found your blog. I have not seen the movie, but the book is one my favorites. I read it last year after submitting my MPhil thesis. I hope to read it in Russian someday.

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