This is one of many copies I have of the Russian classic Anna Karenina.
I haven’t actually read this one because it feels just a bit too fragile, but when I saw it in Oxfam a few years back I couldn’t resist.
Tolstoy’s master work, War and Peace, puts people off because of its sheer size, but it’s worth working at. All Russian lit is hard, partly just because you have to get used to their three name structure and the way their names change depending on who is addressing who.
Karenina is a love story, a brutal love story that gives you a hint of life of the Russian aristocracy. To read the same story written a few generations later, post revolution, would be utterly different and could even be an interesting exercise to create.
The beautiful Anna marries a man of status and money, but falls hopelessly in love with a soldier creating a web of tortured emotions, expulsion from society and the agony of love.
The writing is different to anything you are likely to pick up today, no one writes with this level of detail anymore and you have to adjust your desire for the story to move on and love it for what it is as well as the story itself.
It is good preparation for the other harder Russians. In particular my favourite, Dostoyevsky.
Take your time, allow yourself to become absorbed, and you may just love it.