Anna Karenina is such a massive novel that it would be impossible to do it justice in the confines of a single review. It would be like quickly reviewing your entire life up to this moment. In those 800-odd pages there exists an entire universe filled with fleshed-out, real, flawed human beings who live and rub up together, and continue to do so once the final page has closed.
The basic story is based on the downfall of Anna Karenina, society lady and mistress of Count Vronsky. But this is immaterial and only serves as the backbone of the story upon which the whole rest of the world is mounted. In the broadest possible terms, Anna Karenina could be compared to War and Peace in that it examines the conflicts between the peasant serf class and the gentrified class – the novel could just as easily have been called Town and Country. Like in War and Peace, the narrative shifts between two massive story arcs. These arcs – the story of Anna, and the story of Levin – occasionally mingle and certainly have many overlapping characters, but each are two very separate and very different stories in their own right. Each could serve as a separate novel but somehow the two stories complement each other in an unexpectedly profound way. It would be impossible to conceive of the novel without both stories, even though it is called Anna Karenina, not Anna and Levin.
It’s a legendary novel, and one that deserves its reputation. The length is enough to put people off and yet it’s one of the most famous novels in existence. But how many people have actually read it? There’s 24 hours in a day, easily enough time to put an hour aside to appreciate this phenomenal work of art that, after reading it, certainly changes the reader. It’s impossible to understate the life-changing importance that this novel has. If you love people and love humanity, you need this novel in your life. There’s so much more that could be said but it would be pointless. There’s no way to sum up the novel in a hundred words – just go out and buy it tomorrow.