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Editorial Reviews

Davina Porter's performance of Tolstoy's dauntingly long and involved world classic makes one feel grateful not to have to make this difficult literary journey alone. Porter's voice is pleasant, expressive and versatile; her Russian pronunciations impressive; and her understanding of the work excellent. In an unhurried and confident fashion, Porter reveals the twisting social and personal tensions that ensnare a very mortal married woman who falls into illicit love. Porter's interpretation gives a warmth and consistency to this demanding novel which silent readers would be hard-pressed to approach, let alone duplicate. This is an outstanding example of performance literature.

Publisher's Summary

Tolstoy's masterpiece begins, "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

This is the story of the unhappy family of Anna Karenina. The novel contains much concerning Tolstoy's spiritual crisis and his search for the meaning of life. But it is also chiefly about marriage, and the growth and death of love.

The touching picture of Anna Aarkadyevna Karenina's slow disintegration has fascinated readers for well over a century. Beautiful and charming, Anna lives in a splendid world of her own making. She smokes, rides horseback, plays tennis, takes opium, practices birth control, and (although she is already married) falls in love with a handsome army officer.

Anna's life is played out against a backdrop of dazzling balls and the vastness of Russia's landscape. It is a magnificent story that shimmers with the intensity of intelligence and passion, especially through this superb narration by Davina Porter.

(P)1990 by Recorded Books, LLC; First published in 1878.

Critic Reviews

"Porter reads magnificently." (Los Angeles Times)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.0 out of 5.0
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  • 2 Stars
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Performance

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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    254
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    115
  • 3 Stars
    40
  • 2 Stars
    20
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    7

Story

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
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  • 1 Stars
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  • Overall
  • Eileen
  • Sebastopol, CA, United States
  • 09-08-09

wonderful translation & reader

This is an excellent translation read with wonderful, evocative expression by Davina Porter. After some searching I found the text version from Random House/Modern Library Paperback translated by Constance Garnett AND Leonard Kent AND Nina Berberova. There is an original translation by Constance Garnett alone but that is different. I like to be able to refer to a hardcopy text of my audiobook, and it's nice if the translations actually match up. The reader really brings alive this outstanding novel.

26 of 26 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • AnnaH
  • Lakewood, OH United States
  • 07-12-07

Even Better Aloud

This was my first audiobook from Audible. I chose it because I wanted to reread Anna Karenina -- it is a favorite of mine. Hearing it aloud reminded me that until the last century these great novels were meant to be told and read aloud. The capable narration and dramatic interpretation of Davina Porter made it much easier to keep track of the unfamiliar names and story lines and brought each main character to life. As for the story itself, it was one of my favorites and is now even more so with hearing of it and the new insights I got this time around.

Highly recommended!

24 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Love gone bad, read well

This book is a classic and read very well by the narrator. Having no idea what the story was about when I decided to get this book, I was in for a huge surprise. This book is an excellent narrative on a variety of male-female relationships that all demonstrate some type of domestic abuse. The heroines are looking for a truly love filled life and find themselves in varying degrees of despair due to their beloved men becoming controlling, cheating, manipulative, or even vindictive husbands. This story is not for the faint hearted or for those who like to read about romance.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

a good supplement

I used the audible version to help me read through the actual text version, and found it very helpful. It's such a big book, it can be intimidating. I'm planning on doing the same with Tolstoy's 'War and Peace'. The problem with Russian literature (very generally speaking, and for me at least) is that the names are a little tricky, and it can be hard to keep track of them (let alone pronounce them!). So having it read to you is vastly helpful. The characters still resonate through my mind. Anna is such a tragic heroine (if you choose to categorize her as 'heroine'). She reminds me of Emma Bovary (of 'Madame Bovary').
Sometimes I simply listened, sometimes I read along. Although sound quality is not the greatest, I found it enjoyable listening and would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Russian literature.

48 of 51 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Intelligent and tender

This novel is a remarkable achievement. It is like looking at an intricately pieced quilt, one in which every thread has been braided by hand and dipped in liquid gold. Rarely have I read a novel in which even minor characters have rich, fully realized pasts and deep interior lives. The story is long, but Tolstoy is not wasteful with words. Every sentence tells. The narrator is lively, with a pleasant, soothing voice. I worried whether I would be able to stick with five 7-plus-hour takes, but I was sorry to see it end.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Bruce
  • Knoxville, MD, United States
  • 01-05-08

Anna Karenina

Of all the Russian literature I have listened to in audio form, this was by far the best experience. I don't really know what the narrator did differently here, but the rhetorical digressions flowed with the story well enough that I rarely noticed them. It may just be Tolstoy's skill, but bravo to Divina Porter for many hours of entertainment. I enjoyed the story, the ideas, and the characters very much. If you have to choose between this novel and War and Peace, although they are both excellent, choose this one.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Peggie
  • Lansing, KS, United States
  • 01-29-05

Enjoyable

I really enjoyed this book. While the unabridged version is long and a bit wordy at times, I can't imagine the abridged version could possibly do justice to the complexed stories and character development. If you enjoy light, airy stories that get to the point quickly, this is not the book for you. If you like to really get into the characters, enjoy a developing story and just love to sit back and listen, this is a perfect choice.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A good reading of a masterpiece

This is one of my favorite books, I love the characters and the story is so sad and wonderful at the same time. It is well-read and I recommend it for repeat readers of Anna Karenina or first-timers. It is well worth the time investment.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Nora
  • Seymour, MO, USA
  • 05-10-09

Anna Karenina

Don't know how many times I have tried to read this but listening was a whole new thing. I liked it for the glimpse into Russian history and the caste system there.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Hazel
  • perth, Western AustraliaAustralia
  • 04-03-09

marvelously accessible

This is brilliantly read. I frequently have trouble with the Russian names and the French vocab in print, but the reader is so good that it is all perfectly accessible, and joyful. In my opinion the greatest novel written, and to hear it read in this way is a constant joy. A must have for lovers of true classics

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • Steve
  • 01-26-06

The Greatest Novel Ever Written ?

Tolstoy creates a world of complex characters whom one gets to know and understand and with whom one develops great empathy as the events unfold. The analysis of chatacters' motivation is supreme as Tolstoy demonstates enormous insights into the dilemmas they face as they seek happiness and meaning in their lives. Some fail, some achieve a measure of success, some deceive themselves, some aim low, some aim high.
This book is deeply moving because of its sympathy with humanity.
It is so well written that you cannot put it down but it demands time and concentration.
It is the greatest novel that I have ever read.
If you read only one novel in your life, read Anna Karenina!
Davina Porter judges her reading beautifully

23 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Mirium
  • 01-31-08

What a treat!

I first read this many years ago, at the age of 19, and was probably too young for it. I was only interested in what I saw as the high romance of Anna's love affair, and am ashamed to say I skipped most of Levin's philosophising, which I dismissed as boring. The good thing about an audio book is that it's difficult to skip bits, so you listen to it all - and I loved all 36-plus hours of it! This time round, I realised that Anna was silly, thoughtless and selfish, and found myself much more interested in Levin's story: yes, all the details about agriculture and local politics that I'd found so tedious before. It was beautifully read, too.
Nice to think that at last I am old enough for Tolstoy!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Mary
  • 07-30-07

Who can resist?

Who can resist Tolstoy? From his famous opening sentence, he sweeps us into a world, different from our own, but full of human beings that we recognise immediately. They grapple with the complexities of their own lives. they talk to themseves, kick themselves mentally, delude themselves and swing from optimism to pessimism in ways that engage our sympathies at once.
The energy of Tolstoy's writing is amazing. In the first day of the story, all the main characters (except Anna) appear.They are new to us, but they seem to have been living their lives long before we meet them. Oblonsky, his wife Dolly, her sister Kitty, friend Levin and stranger Vronsky, are all at turning points in their lives. Oblonsky grapples with his wife's knowledge of his infidelity,Dolly contemplates leaving her husband, Levin proposes, Kitty rejects him and Vronsky pursues Kitty. Anna arrives on the next day, to be a catalyst in all their stories and to be compelled towards her own destruction.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful