Anna Karenina

A re-read of a delicious classic that I read when way too young to appreciate it. Starting to feel like a crotchety old lady, always thinking I’ve ruined my reading life by devouring books too early (before age 30). Or maybe this translation was just that much more sparkling than the Constance Garnett version that sustained us before.
From the famous first lines about all happy families being the same and unhappy families being unique in their unhappiness, all the way through to the inexplicable Part 8 where Levin finds faith, believes in his soul, sees God and whatnot.
Naturally we all know Anna throws herself under the train after being driven to despair by the waning of her lover’s attention, the desperateness of her ostracized situation. But do you remember that the night Vronsky follows her to Petersburg, a man throws himself under the train at the station they talk to each other at?
Reminder about the plot: 1870s life in Moscow, Kitty the debutante has rejected Levin because she is in love with Vronsky the Petersburg cad with no intentions of marriage. Kitty’s sister Dolly’s husband Stiva has been exposed as cheating on her with the governess, so Anna (Stiva’s sister) swoops in to beg forgiveness for Stiva. Vronsky falls for Anna when he goes to pick up his mother at the station (always with these trains!). She leaves town soon after, knowing that she has fallen for Vronsky, headed back to her husband and young son. Vronsky follows her, they begin an illicit affair, she gets preggers with Vronsky’s daughter, her husband Alexei refuses to grant her a divorce, she runs away with Vronsky.
Favorite character is Levin, the gentleman farmer who feels uncomfortable whenever in town, itching to leave, happiest when mowing hay alongside his workers, concerned with the minutiae of farm life. He suffers the pain of his brother’s death, the rejection then acceptance of Kitty, writes a book on how Russian agriculture depends on the character of the worker. The quiet intellectual holding up the structure of society with actions and words.
Also good theme of how having children is akin to slavery. Anna loves her firstborn desperately because she does not love her husband. The reverse is true of her daughter, she feels indifferently toward the child because is consumed with love for Vronsky.