I finished reading Anna Karenina tonight. I started reading it on or around the 15th of September and my little Kindle app clicked over to 100% tonight.
It's one of the longest books I've read, with the possible exception of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and I'm so glad I read it.
The writing really is beautiful, I mean it's no wonder that Tolstoy is as praised as he is. But the actual story of it is just lovely. It makes you so happy and so sad and so curious and so confused and so involved with the characters.
When I was about two thirds of the way through one of my friends asked me what it was about and it was odd because I really couldn't answer him. Spoiling the story wasn't the problem, it was just that it didn't have this obvious template of "main character, side characters, plot, side story..." It's like he keeps you in suspense of what the story really is then only gives the game away at the last minute. He tricks you into thinking it's about something when actually it's not. It was just a pleasure to read though, and because you only really know the story of the book when you finish the last page it's quite impossible to write a blurb or an introduction that does it justice.
Anna Karenina is a character in the story, that's true, but you can't really say it's about her, and you can't really say it's not about her. It's set in Russia, in the late 19th century I think, and it's about different people. It's about love, but not in a "romance novel" kind of way, because it's also about class and society, and reality and jealousy, and aspirations, and family and faith, and work and marriage.
It's a book that everyone should read. I know it's ridiculously long but it's worth its 800-odd pages, and even though it is long and in-depth and detailed, and sometimes you're reading something and you don't know why such great detail has been gone into, but then you turn the page and you find out why what you just read was so important.
It's like when a friend tells you something inane that happened to them when they were little and it makes so much more clear about their personality.
You need it to be such a long book, and I actually kind of want to start over and read it all again, now that I know how it turns out - although I'm probably going to find myself a nice short book to read before I do that!