Oh, the Drama!...
Anna Karenina was long. That is the first and most obvious thing anyone should ever say about this book. It was 900 pages long, with tiny text. It was 4 or 5 weeks of reading long! I think that it is important to mention here that I am a highly capable reader (the Return of the King finished in one day and night, thank-you!). Old books require more time to read, and to ponder over meanings behind the intricate wordplay.
Anna Karenina was also interesting, like a long, twirling, mind-enveloping dance where you are spinning and spinning. There are whirlwinds of galas and balls, and then moments of complete clarity. Tolstoy has a unique way of delineating exactly how a character is feeling, what he is doing, and why. Every so often the fluffy story of Anna and her affairs is pierced with an undercurrent of ominous foreboding. I especially found this when Anna recounted her strange dreams, in which she heard a small French peasant muttering something, while doing terrible things with steel. While these parts are a little disturbing, the book also holds other points of interest. The book does not solely centre on the story of Anna, but also works around the lives of the other characters, and especially of one called Levin, who could be likened to the writer's portrayal of himself. Through Levin's story, Tolstoy seems to be untangling his thoughts about religion. In the end, Levin's religious epiphany reads like Tolstoy's epiphany.
If you want any more juicy details, you will just have to read all 900 pages yourself, and I implore you to do so, as you will learn and grow with the book.
The book itself was also very interesting, and just a wee bit charming. Printed all the way back in the 1950's, it is about the size of your hand. In this way, it reminds me of old Bibles people used for personal devotion.
The most wonderful thing about it was the discovery I made about the page corners. At first glance they seemed to be cut in a very rounded shape. But, as I read, I began to find corners that had been squished or folded by somebody's hand. First a few, then some more, all completely rectangular, as pointy as could be! So... using my detective skills I have come to the conclusion that: the many hands that have held this book, over the last 60 or so years, have worn the edges right down as they thumbed their way through the story. I thought that was quite special.