Anna Karenina seems to have everything - beauty, wealth, popularity and an adored son. But she feels that her life is empty until the moment she encounters the impetuous officer Count Vronsky.
Translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude.
©1994 BBC Audiobooks Ltd (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
Having just finished War and Peace, I am probably in the worst possible position to review Anna Karenina with any degree of perspective. I thought War and Peace was one of the best books I had ever read, so going from that to this was bound to be fraught with--shall we say--a complexity of opinion.This book is great. It really is. But to review it under these circumstances would be of little use to anyone, because that which preceded it--at the risk of starting World War III--was so much better. So instead of talking about Konstantin Levin, let me talk about David Horovitch, the narrator, and his performance. This guy knows how to use his voice. It's really quite stunning to experience; he imbues every phrase with exactly the passion and nuance you would expect from the characters themselves. It's as if the characters were hovering over his shoulder, telling him "no...say it like THIS." He is truly a voice "actor" and a consummate performance artist in every sense. If Tolstoy were alive today, he would insist on buying David Horovitch a lavish dinner. Having said that--and this is not a complaint, really--what Horovitch doesn't do is don different voices for each character, as some voice actors do. He switches from accent to accent (and language to language) with great fluidity, but he rarely alters his voice to accommodate the gender of his characters. I don't view this as a shortcoming, necessarily, because unless it's done to perfection it can be extremely off-putting to hear a deep gravelly man-voice trying to sound like a coquettish maiden or a nine-year-old boy. But in this case, because there are so many characters and so much rapid dialogue, there is occasionally some confusion because of this. Be that as it may: If you've read Tolstoy, and also if you haven't, I strongly recommend this audio version of Anna Karenina. It is profoundly great. My only caveat is that, if you're on a no-holds-barred, damn-the-torpedoes Tolstoy binge, you should probably read it before you read War and Peace, and not after.
I love this book and for the most part liked the reader except his constant changes in volume made it hard to hear passages without constantly either missing something or turning the volume up and down.
Anna Karenina is quite simply one of the great masterpieces of world literature. I've read it before, but from the opening sentence I was reminded again of how much authority Tolstoy writes with. The narration is superb. While some say the MAude translation contains inaccuracies, I assume that overall it's good enough.
David Horovitch's reading of Anna Karenina is excellent and one of the best audiobooks to which I have ever listened.
Horovitch captures the principal character's personalities with precision and brings depth to their respective positions and roles in the story.
I was apprehensive about listening to anyone read a lengthy Russian novel, but Horovitch did a brilliant job. His narration was never grating, and he did a brilliant job with both the dialogue and the descriptive portions of the novel.
Hope and Tragedy
Near the top. I would rank it within my top 5.
The story takes you on a voyage of multiple emotions. The character development is grand.
Anna Karenina has been on my must read list for many years. I have been keeping lists – and book lists in particular – since my first summer journal at eight years old. The epic Russian novel appears at the top of many top ten novels lists and has been referred to as “flawless” and “the greatest novel ever written” by two of the most celebrated novelists of our time.
I have owned a copy of Anna Karenina for about ten years. If I have made any attempt at all to read it, I have never gotten much past the first sentence, which is one of the most iconic quotes from the book “All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”. Last Sunday, realizing for the first time that there has been yet another movie remake – this one starring Kiera Knightly and Jude Law – I decided I’d better read the book before “accidentally” catching it on television.
Tolstoy’s world is mid-to-late nineteenth century Imperial Russia. The primary characters live lavish and eminently superficial lifestyles. Their daily existence is a whirlwind of sparkling balls featuring hair-pieced chignons piled high, and decadently luxurious boudoirs where the aristocratic Russian society of Moscow and St. Petersburg affectedly pepper their speech with French. In stark contrast to the elaborate, but constricted life of the city is pastoral Russia. The agrarian countryside has expansive landscapes, rich soil and an unending sky.
Tolstoy’s romantic masterpiece is as vivid as it is relatable. The book captures the imagination with its straightforward and exact language. Tolstoy stops time as he bores into his characters’ every thought, motive, and facial twitch, even as dialogue is being exchanged. It is a romance – admittedly not my favorite genre – but juicy from the get-go with marital infidelity, unrequited love and a tragic love affair.
The novel is sweeping, with at least two dozen named characters whose lives spiral around the two central protagonists – Anna Karenina and Tolstoy’s alter ego, Konstantin Levin. Tolstoy peers not only into the lives of a few rich 19th century Russians, but into the whole of humanity. The novel has stood the test of time because it reminds us that even the most desirable of circumstances may be unbearable, that bumps in the road may still lead to happy endings, that glamor and frivolity are but fleeting joys, and that family and real love are worth crying for, fighting for, striving for, waiting for.
Anna Karenina is a celebration of human frailty and redemption. Tolstoy says its okay to be flawed, its okay to make mistakes, just keep trying. We see that there are infinite possibilities in life, but we indeed choose our own path. Without seeking to reduce a 150-year old, 900-page classic tome to a few epithets, Anna Karenina is a celebration of life – its beauty and its tragedy – and all the meaning there is to be found, if only we will choose to see it.
I love listening to books when cycling, paddleboarding, etc but I press pause when I need to concentrate. Its safer & I don't lose the plot!
Q. Why did I listen to ‘Anna Karenina’? A. I had listened to ‘The Year of Reading Dangerously’ by Andy Miller, in which he reads and reviews 50 books, and he singled out ‘Anna Karenina’ for high praise. Incidentally, I also tried to get his absolute favourite number one book on the list ‘Atomised’, but it isn’t available as a talking book so I hunted down a hard copy, and I haven’t finished it yet but have struggled so far. This is the problem with recommendations. People’s tastes differ.
Anyway, back to the main point, which is ‘Anna Karenina’: I found it enjoyable, mostly, but it does meander off into politics and philosophising quite a lot. It has been described as ‘the best book ever written’, but, whatever these qualities are that qualify it for such hyperbole are lost on me.
The characterisation is good and realistic, and you are drawn in to sympathise with the characters. There is interesting social comment (the fact that when a man and a woman commit the same social indiscretion, adultery, the man is unpunished while the woman is ostracised and disgraced). The narration is excellent. But the plot is a bit of a disappointment and after the ‘main event’ near the end there is a boring epilogue and I was waiting for it to finish so I could listen to something more interesting.
Maybe I’m just too shallow for old classics, but I wasn’t particularly impressed by this book. 7/10.
I'd never read the book and didn't not know the storyline at all. Just anxious to take in a highly recommended classic and I was not disappointed. Narration was as excellent as the story deserves.
I'm not going to review Tolstoy on an audible app. The book is great. I thoroughly enjoyed it (although perhaps expected to be more awestruck than I was). I worry that perhaps this isn't the best translation. The research I did suggested this, but without reading the other translations I'm not well placed to give an informed opinion.
The narrator does an extremely good job. I highly recommend. He is clear and very subtly adapts his voice for each character. I've gotten more from other amazing narrations, but this is a very good performance all the same.
The one thing that annoyed me a little was the regular use of French sentences in the last third of the book. Just as I don't speak Russian, I also don't speak French. So how am I supposed to absorb that material? What explains the selective translation? It doesn't overwhelm the experience, but it's annoying.
"A long journey but absolutely worth it."
One of the mastodons of literature. As with the greatest works, it can probably only really be understood if one has lived a few years. The story is much more than a tragic romance and in fact the putative heroine is absent much of the time, but Tolstoy's penetrating psychological insight informs every scene and illuminates every protagonist. A genuine treasure and very well read in this edition.
The reader does a fantastic job . He reads each character so well , one really gets a an insight into each of the characters personality !
One feels a part of Tolstoys Russia . A worthwhile audible marathon .
"My first Tolstoy"
a very modern style of writing, enjoyed it very much. excellent performance well worth the time.
Anna Karenina wasn't the best audiobook I've listened to but was by no means the worst. David Horovitch is a great narrator and really gave the story that additional lift that I needed to get through it, I did listen to this in combination with reading a physical copy and that really works for me. It was an incredible book that I definitely feel benefited listening to the majority of. I've never listened to his performances before this but will definitely look for something else by him in the future.
As for characters I think it was Levin who I liked the most. However, even though I absolutely loathed her at points, Anna was an incredible character and possibly one of the best I've read in fiction. The writing of her and the full breadth of her character was incredible and very much deserving of the many hours this book took up.
It's an audiobook that I felt required a bit more time and, rather than my usual 2x speed I listened to this on 1.5x which was, for me, a good pace. Tolsoy's way with words is beautiful and I can't wait to explore more of his work in the future!
"Shouts and whispers"
Great book, but unfortunately the narrator likes to alternate between whispering and almost shouting. I don't know under which circumstances other people listen to audiobooks, but I do it while driving, so each time the narrator whispers I have to turn up the volume, only to have him shouting at me in the next instant - effectively turning the experience of listening to this phenomenal book into a nuisance.
"An astonishing book"
It's a long listen but well worth the effort. The narrator is the best I've come across and he characterises all people uniquely.
A very interesting and informative account of the lives of people who are on the edge of reform both socially and politically.
I read the book years ago and doubt I read every word yet I listened to it all. I was surprised by the author's insight into the emotions of both the male and female characters and the way he handled the social and philosophical political and religious questions of that society. Its relevance to today also struck me. The narrator was superb.
I really enjoyed listening to this book. I had never got beyond the first few pages of the written book but knew it was a story I would enjoy I find it is impossible to compare audiobooks as my choice is fairly eclectic.
There were many memorable scenes in the book and I found all of them essential to the whole.
I thought the narrator was very good and differentiated well between the different characters.
No it is much too long and also there is so much happening. I really looked forward to listening to it every day
Audible has really helped me to expand my choice of books because I can listen at times when it is not possible to read a book even on Kindle (although I still read every day).
"An honest portrayal of emotions, deliciously read."
Absolutely. I remeber trying to read Anna Karenina on a plane and buckling under the pressure of such an impressively large volume. I particularly reccommend this for students that have been put off reading due to the sheer amount of words they stare at every day during study or revision.
I wouldn't say I have a favourite but I couldn't help rooting for Levin.
No but you can tell he enjoys reading this. He gets really into it and brings much humanity to his reading.
It made me feel all the feels. Happiness, sadness, anger, anxiety, pity, nervousness(?) (if that's even an emotion) etc.
Perfect to listen to whilst going for a walk, on commute, having a bath or doing dull lab work.
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