Anna Karenina | Leo Tolstoy
Anna Karenina is not just about Anna Karenina. Her story – romantic, desperate, tragic – is twinned with the seemingly more prosaic life story of Konstantin Levin. Like Pierre in War and Peace, Levin is an awkward, lovable character, born into comfort but nonetheless uncomfortable, searching for a meaningful way to live his life.
In contrast to the many difficult or failed marriages depicted in the novel, Levin marries the woman he loves, and their union is a happy one. But, this being Tolstoy, there is no ‘happily ever after’ – even contentment isn’t a straightforward state of mind. The difficulty of living day to day, even if your days aren’t wracked by guilt, depression or unrequited love, is powerfully, thrillingly evoked.