Anna Karenina: First Quarter

Reviewing classics is always difficult. What does my opinion matter when millions of people have already branded a book a must read? I always find it amusing looking at reviews of classics such as War and Peace or Jane Eyre on amazon; invariably amongst the rapturous reviews there are a handful of indignant ones written by people who have not seen the magic they were hoping for within its pages, and are frustrated and disappointed at spending the time to read something from which they feel they have received no reward. Some of these reviews are written by people who probably missed the point a little – usually school children who’ve been forced to read a book they are too young or too uninterested to appreciate, and say things along the lines of ‘this book is SO boring and the characters are all STUPID’, with no other insight beyond this. Others, though, are well written reviews from people who, despite acknowledging the quality of the writing, or interesting characterisation, or beautiful descriptions of landscape, didn’t enjoy the book and have perfectly reasoned opinions as to why. Such as this review of Jane Eyre:

I absolutely loved Wuthering Heights, so thinking Charlotte might be like Emily, I decided to read Jane Eyre. Dear God. I’m actually proud of myself for finishing what can only be described as utterly tedious. What is the actual plot of this book? A girl ‘falls in love’ with her ‘master’ who also happens to be the first man she has ever really had a mere conversation with. He then completely lies to her regarding his marital status, and yet she goes back to him… and this is called a feminist novel? Aside from the utter boredom of the plot, the writing is extremely repetitive and chapters go by when nothing new is really introduced. I like novels where there’s no much of a plot but the writing is beautiful or feelings are really well explored etc. but the appeal of this book is just beyond my comprehension.

I think this is fair enough. I love Jane Eyre but even I can admit that it has its failings, and in places, I do skip bits. Sacrilege, I know, but there’s only so much of St John being a martyr that a girl can take. The reviewer does say that she loves Wuthering Heights, so clearly we are Bronte opposites, as I can’t stand it. I’m well read and well educated, and I like to think that I can see and appreciate good writing when it’s in front of me. In my eyes, Wuthering Heights has always come across as nothing but teenage histrionics. The characters behave nonsensically, the plot is absurd, and I can’t bear the melodrama of beating breasts and rain lashed windows. I genuinely cannot understand why it is considered a classic or why other people love it so much. I have read it about five times, desperately seeking what I am missing. Each time I have come up with nothing. Is my opinion automatically invalid because ‘everyone else’ thinks it’s marvellous? Or do I still have a right to reasonably explore the flaws in what is, in my opinion, a poorly written novel?

Where is this leading? I can hear you wondering. Well, I’m afraid it’s leading to me saying that Anna Karenina is not the book I remembered it as. I am reading a different translation this time, which may be having a subtle effect on my reading experience (for those interested, I read the Pevear and Volokhonsky last time, and I’m reading the Maude and Maude this time), and also my edition is rubbish (whoever edited it feels the need to footnote and translate simple French phrases such as ‘bonne chance’  and ‘ma chere’ but they don’t consider it necessary to translate whole reams of German and French conversation that are probably actually quite important for me to understand – very annoying!), but in general I am finding it an incredibly long winded and frenetic novel that doesn’t seem to know what exactly it’s trying to say. Tolstoy has an agenda, of course; his political and religious views saturate all of his writing, and these are by and large interesting to read; but in order to express his views, he’s having to introduce so many different characters and plot strands that the novel becomes bloated and top heavy, the moments of excellence hidden amidst pages and pages of – frankly – pointless, indulgent waffle.

I remember this about War and Peace now – whole chapters of philosophical posturing and extraneous detail that had no relevance to the central plot and added nothing to the thrust of the novel or the personalities of the characters. If this was being written now, it would be at least half the length, the unnecessary asides chiselled away with an editor’s pen to allow the beauty of Tolstoy’s descriptions of the land, wonderfully perceptive portrayals of human relationships, magnificent, sparkling dialogue between characters and the breathtaking rendering of all the glitz, glamour and ultimately hollow world of high society Russia in its heyday to take centre stage. As it is, while it is still compulsively readable, I can’t quite bring myself to praise it to the heavens in the way many others do. It’s good, yes, but so far I am yet to see greatness.

Negatives aside, what am I enjoying? Well, the first thing I noticed is how gossipy, how conversational, and how down to earth Tolstoy’s style is. This is not the dense, worthy prose of so many English novels of the period; instead there is a lightness and an ease that gives the novel a quick, pacy style that I love, reflecting the passionate, easily distracted and constantly occupied lifestyle of the characters. The characters themselves are marvellously realised; even minor bit players are fully fleshed out, brought to life merely by the way they wear their hat or move their hands when they talk. I love Tolstoy’s effortless ability to create a scene, perfectly rendering the chatter of a Petersburg drawing room, the feathers and fans and excitable cries at a busy racecourse, the peace and rusticity of life in a country farmhouse or the bleak beauty of a snow drenched landscape with an exquisite eye for just the right amount of detail to bring his world alive. I am also enjoying the wonderful atmosphere; the tension, the romance, the unhappiness, the confusion, the searching…this is a novel that is positively teeming with life. 

I am absorbed in the world of Anna Karenina, I do think the characterisation is marvellous, and Tolstoy’s writing style and insight are undeniably fantastic. I just wish that these elements could be given more room to shine. The novel is weakened by the passages of self indulgence and the extraneous characters and plot lines; they suffocate and stifle the sparks of brilliance, dampening the atmosphere, slowing the pace, and making the reading experience feel, in places, like wading through quicksand. I know the sea is there, sparkling in the distance, but in between, I am bogged down in turgid passages that feel totally pointless. At the moment I am having real mixed feelings, and I am a little disappointed that my memory of Anna Karenina, which started my love affair with Russian Literature, has been somewhat tainted. I am hoping that as I progress through the novel, things will improve and I’ll fall in love all over again. I’d love to hear from those who are reading along; do you feel the same, or have you been blown away by Tolstoy’s magnificence? Can you help me find the magic that I may have overlooked?

48 comments

  1. Several years ago I got almost half-way through AK and gave it up. Couldn’t stand Anna and Levin’s philosophizing bored me silly. But I will go back to it eventually.

    I am at the moment 600 pages into War and Peace [I have the Garnett to read and the Maude/Norton Critical edition for the footnotes and as a back-up] and I adore it — although I admit to strolling rather than plowing through it. I tend to do that with classics generally — a chapter or two a day. I haven’t hit all that much philosophizing yet but do feel a bit bogged down in the war sections in which strategy and tactics come up. But the characters and situations in this book — good and bad — really come alive for me.

    I should add that in the intervening years between AK and W&P I read Troyat’s biography of Tolstoy and a quite a bit of his wife’s diary and now feel a good deal more sympathy towards what Tolstoy is attempting to do generally than I did when I first read him.

    1. Thanks for that, AJ – it’s really interesting how different people’s experiences are. I loved AK and didn’t enjoy WP when I read them about ten years ago, and I wonder whether I would appreciate WP now. I do think having a greater understanding of Tolstoy would help, along with a properly edited edition – but in general it is difficult to enjoy a book when half of the chapters are just pontificating! It is get better, however, as I go along – I am hoping something will kick in eventually and I’ll fall in love!

  2. I read “Anna Karenina” two years ago and it was a painful slog. I loved the beginning, I loved Anna and Vronksy and Dolly and Steva and for awhile I loved Levin…but then…the loathing started. Would that Levin would shut up. Would that he Would hang himself (mercy!). I wanted to see more of Anna, I desperately wanted to know about her. Instead there was so much…filler. Pontifications that I couldn’t quite see the point of. It threw me off hard because I had read “The Brothers Karamazov” twice and lived through the book with those brothers and all the other characters intertwined.

    It’s been two years and I’ve been dutifully pondering over “Anna Karenina” but I still can’t see the point of it. It left me cold when I wanted to love it. I’m still willing to change my mind and I was excited to see that you’re reading it. However, it sounds like you’re falling into the exact same problems as myself!

    1. Yes – the ‘filler’ is so frustrating, isn’t it? Levin is annoying me too. I want to get into Anna’s head, understand her more…and I also want to understand more of Karenin. No one ever talks about him, but I actually think he is the most interesting character of the lot.

      I’m hoping I will love it eventually – I’m not going to give up, so you never know – I might turn a corner and suddenly it will all click into place!

  3. I’m always excited when someone is reading classic novels and really challenging themselves with long, hard books. I admit that I liked War and Peace better than Anna Karenina, but I don’t mind the philosophy. One woman who was in a discussion class with me on AK said that when she read the book as a young adult she thought the romance between Anna and Vronsky was just the most wonderful thing. Now as a older adult she thought that Anna was a twit giving up her child because she couldn’t stand her husband’s ears. Unlike you, I wish the main character had been Levin because I found his thoughts more interesting than Anna’s, but that’s just me. Another time, another place, you might find it different, and that’s what I like about great literature…you come to it as a different person every time you read it and get something different out of it each time. I wish you well with your reading and hope you make it to the end.

    1. You are so right – the true test of a timeless novel is how our reactions change to it over time and how the story grows with us. I was drawn in by the romance between Anna and Vronsky last time, but this time I am intrigued by Dolly and Karenin most of all – the wronged partners. What about their stories?

      Thank you – I will plough on – I’m not a quitter!

  4. Hi Rachel. This is my first attempt at AK and I am blown away by it. I agree, its accessibility was a pleasant surprise, but the characters, the descriptions of landscape, the insights into human nature, I am just loving. I see what you are saying about the asides, but I just feel that I am learning so much through my engagement with them. There are so many new ideas in here. And I am at a particular point where I have the time to luxuriate in it all. I have also had that feeling quite a few times that I get with George Eliot, where I go ‘yes, yes, this is EXACTLY how I have felt before.’ That is a pretty amazing experience. I wish I had realised my infatuation with piety for what it was as quickly as Kitty does! I have deliberately avoided the storyline, so I have no idea what happens, but the Anna and Vronsky parts are sometimes giving me a physical pain in my innards because I can feel the doom descending. (Surely, it can’t end well?!). Levin I absolutely adore, but I think that’s because his sullenness and moodiness and awkwardness so reminds me of myself! I also can not resist a man that has such a depth of feeling for the natural world. I would love to just sit in his woods and watch with him. My boyfriend and I have been chewing over the description of Oblonsky, which states that he was indulgent with the shortcomings of others because he was aware of his own. It is particularly relevant to some current family issues; are we self-aware? are we being indulgent? It is like a snake biting its tail, that one! And the description of Anna in her black dress at that first ball. NOW, I understand why a little black dress is soooo good. Who would have thought Tolstoy could make that clear? I keep rushing on, and then drawing back, as I don’t really want it to end! But I suppose all good things…Let’s see if I am this enthusiastic at the end! Thank you for providing the impetus to finally commit to this slab of a book.

    1. I’m delighted by your enthusiasm, Rebecca! I love it when characters really speak to us and illuminate areas of our own lives – that’s a really special experience. I also enjoyed the description of Anna in that black dress – so captivating! I am enjoying it more as I read further, and I think the asides will bother me less as I get more and more absorbed into the plot, but I do wish there was less filler and more action!

  5. I first read AK as a teenager and was more fascinated with the “romantic” aspects the characters experienced than the bigger picture. I am re-reading this in a leisurely fashion now as an adult. There are no female characters that interest me or that I can identify with in the least. The males come across as pompous and dull. Having said that, I realize that Russian lit is very foreign to anything that I now read for pleasure. What does interest me more is the political climate, the advances in farming techniques, and how many of these things seem to correspond to the same period in the US after the War Between the States. I’m only half-way through so will have to see what I think at the end. I always learn from your critiques so look forward to them.

    1. It’s interesting how what we notice and find absorbing as we grow changes, isn’t it? I found Karenin insufferable and dull last time, but this time I am intrigued by him and find Anna’s treatment of him very unfair – not something I expected. I’m glad you’re finding something of interest and let’s hope that we both get more excited as we go along. Thank you – that’s lovely of you to say!

  6. I tried to re-read AK last year and got bored with it. Like others I didn’t like Levin at all. I don’t mind skipping and have skipped the war bits of W&P on both my readings. But I couldn’t be bothered to pursue AK even with skipping. Not that I thought it was a bad novel, just not the novel for me, or at least not at the moment. But I could come back to it one day in a different mood and have a different response. It’s great to see that some people really like it, though.

    1. I am glad I’m not alone in feeling bored, Harriet! It’s a shame, isn’t it – but important to recognise that our feelings right now don’t make it a bad novel. I’m pleased that others are loving it, too – it gives me the strength to go on!

  7. Going a bit off topic here in that I don’t have a comment about Anna Karenina, but I just had to say that I enjoyed your remark about St. John. Much as I love Jane Eyre, I always groan a little bit when he comes on scene!

  8. Yes I concur with you wholeheartedly. I was reading it and felt I had to because you would expect me to. I found it tedious and am relieved I can stop and read Night and Day which I have lined up to read next. I read AK years ago and loved it – maybe I am old and jaded now and find AK such an awful woman. So I cannot offer you any reason to continue. Rather read something you love- something so wonderful that it inspires and enlightens you. Reading should be the greatest pleasure not a chore !!!!

    1. Never continue with a book unless you think it worth it, Enid – crack on with Night and Day and enjoy! Some books grow with us and some don’t – and that’s ok!

  9. Sorry to say I don’t think I can help you find the magic, Rachel, but, I can say how very much I appreciate your words here. So much of how we read a book, any book, is when we read and what we bring to the experience as much, well, almost as much, as what we take out of it. Thank you for these perspectives here.

    1. Thanks Penny – I completely agree. Sometimes a book finds us at the right time and everything falls into place – and at other times it doesn’t. I think having an open mind and being prepared to look at a book on balance helps – I might not be loving AK this time but I can still appreciate what is good in it. I hope I do come to love it again but I’m worried I won’t!

  10. I’m interested to see what you think Rachel as you go along. I reread Anna Karenina last year after reading it while I was in college and not getting much out of it. This time through I enjoyed the broad scope, the many characters (once I remembered who was who) and the view of a long-gone society and way of life as well as his ability to capture the complexities and inconsistencies of his characters. I did think it took awhile for the story to start coalescing. On another tack, like you, I have never really understood the attraction of Wuthering Heights.

    1. Thanks Susan – I think it will get more exciting as I go along, and I’ll find my way again. I have hope now you have said you enjoyed it on a second reading. I suppose I have just been disappointed at it not being how I remembered it, but I’m sure it will pick up soon. I’m glad you’re another person who is confused at the popularity of WH – I really cannot understand it at all!

  11. I think it’s great to question the accepted classics. When books receive unwavering critical acclaim I always fear myself to be a bit of a dunce if I don’t feel quite the same way about them. For example, to painfully sit on the fence for a bit, I ‘quite like’ both Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights but I can’t entirely see why either receives such near-universal, tearful adulation all the time and, as Victorian novels go, I’d argue Middlemarch, Bleak House, The Mayor of Casterbridge and Wives and Daughters to name but four are all far better books. Provided the criticism is well-argued I’m all for tearing down a few literary icons.

    I must admit Anna Karenina has always been something of a favourite but I think you touch on a really important point in your review – the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation reads very smoothly whereas some of the others clunk and rattle a bit and, obviously, a translation that grinds in places like a poorly executed gear change doesn’t do the book any favours.

    Finally, by way of a daft aside, there was once a review of Moby Dick on Amazon which gave the novel a one star review and the comments went something like: ‘I didn’t know this book had a whale in it. I don’t like whales’. As mentioned above I’m all for questioning the classics but as criticism I fear this particular damning analysis needs a touch more work ….

    1. “I didn’t know this book had a whale in it” — classic!!! Seriously, I think the whale doesn’t show up until after 100 chapters (though I have yet to read it. I do own a copy — I hope to read it someday!) Thanks for sharing that, it was the best laugh I’ve had all day.

      That’s kind of like saying you didn’t know Gone with the Wind was about the Civil War.

    2. Thanks Greg, and I quite agree – the ‘classics’ often surprise me by lacking the special something I expected, and I can think of many books that have never reached the bestseller lists that have touched me in ways the ‘classics’ never have.

      I actually like the Maude translation – I like to think it’s more authentically 19th century. The Pevear and Volokhonsky translation of Dr Zhivago was terrible and made it sound like it had been written yesterday – I don’t like the updating of the language that they seem to insist upon doing.

      That’s hilarious! I hope for their sake it was a joke review!

      1. I disliked the P/V translations of Dostoevsky’s The Eternal Husband and some Chekhov stories so much I have not been tempted to pick up anything else by them. I much prefer Garnett for Dostoevsky and Chekhov, and Garnett and Maude for Tolstoy. Garnett doesn’t have the word-for-word accuracy of P/V but I have always found her stuff highly readable and her ability to convey the Russianness of a landscape, character or situation in good English prose appeals to me. Maude is probably stronger on dialogue. A number of critics, while acknowledging some inaccuracies, still compare Garnett’s translations favorably to those that came later, including P/V’s, and Aylmer Maude was a fan as well. But maybe my fondness for her is simply because I read her work first and so I associate her with works that blew me away the first time I read them.

      2. Thanks for your notes on the translations, AJ – that’s really useful to know! I have heard bad things about Garnett, but I have read one of her Dostoevsky translations and thought it was very good.

  12. I’ve read both War and Peace and Anna K., and though I liked parts of AK, I thought it went on waaaay too long and I wanted to smack one of the characters repeatedly at the end. (I’m trying not to influence your opinion before you read it). WP was way back in college, it was the entire semester’s reading. I never finished the last 50 pages which is basically a long essay in which Tolstoy goes on and on about history. Luckily it wasn’t on the final.

    The Death of Ivan Illyich is really good, though. And short.

    And I’m with you about Wuthering Heights. I see the points against Jane Eyre but I still love it, probably because it was one of the first classics I ever really enjoyed.

    1. Hahahaha! I bet I can guess who! Yes it is far too long – and yes I didn’t read the last few pages of WP either – it was totally unncessary in my opinion!

      I shall have to read that one day! Haven’t got around to his shorter stuff yet!

      Jane Eyre just calls to me, despite its flaws. I think there is something beautiful in its message. Wuthering Heights is just…I don’t know…ridiculous, in my opinion!

      1. For a work project, I’ve been reading a lot of Tolstoy’s shorter works, including some of his religious writings. In the latter, he is incredibly repetitive but there is such cumulative power and beauty in his arguments — he is so sincere and so impassioned but without losing sight of the fact that he is making an argument and not a plea — that even a completely non-religious person like me is able to appreciate it. I also think one of his early works, the trilogy Childhood, Boyhood, Youth has a lot of the the virtues of AK and W&P, but without all the digressions into philosophy. Unfortunately, the planned 4th volume was never completed, but I found this work really enjoyable.

        I think you are spot on about Wuthering Heights too — one reading was enough and I never need to see another film version. On the other hand, I love Jane Eyre because I love Jane’s voice.

      2. A work project to read Tolstoy? Lucky you! They sound fantastic – I’d like to read those shorter works and get a better idea of his philosophies and religious beliefs.

        I’m glad you understand about Jane Eyre – there is just *something* about her and WH lacks that quality in my opinion!

  13. Firstly, & maybe strangely, this post has made me want to re read AK. I remember reading a wedding scene & thinking ‘wow this is the most wonderful description of a wedding ceremony’, then thinking the same about a death bed scene & so on. I am now intrigued as to which translation I read so off to look that up.

    1. I think it is the little set pieces that are the most astounding – moments where Tolstoy really captures the essence of something. In fact a lot of what he writes is very thought provoking and profound in its way, but it’s just having the patience to wade through it all when you just want to know what is going to HAPPEN to everyone!

      1. Exactly!!! Sometimes you just want him to stop the philosophizing or being profound and just tell us what happens to the characters! On reflection, I feel that Tolstoy doesn’t love all his characters. Not that he hates them, but he probably has very mixed and tortured relationships with them.

  14. I think we must be Brontë twins.😉 I agree with everything you said about Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.

    Even when I read Anna Karenina as a teenager, I didn’t like the Anna and Vronsky part. Anna is so clueless and I never understood what she saw in Vronsky. I can’t relate to all these ‘classic’ heroines whose idea of liberation is a fling with someone completely worthless, ruining their own life and that of their husband, children, lover etc. in the process. I never could finish Madame Bovary.

    I do like Anna Karenina, because of the wonderful descriptions of Russian high society in the 19th century. (And any book that gives you the word ‘trojka’ is worth reading.)

    And I didn’t mind the Levin bits. Tolstoj was a very religious person and I think he modelled Levin on himself. I’m not a religious person at all but I was interested in Levin’s point of view, maybe because it is completely foreign to me.

    I do think as I get older, I have less patience with books. When I was a teenager, I still thought I could read all the book in existence, twice over. Now I realise I don’t have time to waste on books I don’t like. I have found that the key to reading the classics without frustration is a lot of judicious skimming. (Although I still feel a bit guilty about not reading every word with full attention because it’s a Classic, after all.)

    1. I think skimming is the way forward too! I didn’t ‘get’ Madame Bovary either, and I don’t understand Anna and Vronsky as well – I actually find Karenin one of the most interesting characters, in the way that he is suffering so much and totally unable to articulate himself. Levin is also interesting – I agree that there is probably a fair bit of Tolstoy written into his character.

      I think everyone has a right to say ‘I don’t like this’ about a book, no matter how well known or highly regarded it is. Some books call to some and do nothing for others and there are far too many fantastic books out there to waste time on something that doesn’t speak to you.

  15. Rachel, thank you for sharing your thoughts about these classic novels. You always seem to so clear and to your point that it is a pleasure to read. I sense the children you will be teaching in the future are going to find a love for novels they probably would never had.

    I have never read AK nor any Tolstoy, but thanks to you I am less scared of reading classics which I avoided at school. Having recently read Northanger Abbey and Jane Eyre and Persuasion thanks to reading your blog. I spend time with them, and if necessary write my thoughts as I go.

    I will come back and be intrigued by future posts to do with AK.

    1. Thanks Jo, I’m glad you appreciate what I have to say- and that’s so kind of you about teaching – I hope you will be right!

      I’m so pleased to hear that! Tolstoy isn’t for everyone – but I’m thrilled that I’ve encouraged you to give Austen a try – isn’t she marvellous?! I think a lot of people are scared by the classics as they are supposed to be deep and meaningful and difficult to read, but mostly they are nothing of the sort and can be read with just as much ease and pleasure as a current bestseller, if approached in the right way. Keep exploring and don’t be scared – maybe after reading everyone’s views on AK you’ll feel ready to give that a go too!

  16. Really interesting post, Rachel. I’ve heard so many people rave about AK that I was keen to read it, and now I’m a little less so! Although I am intrigued that you’re still finding it compulsive reading, despite the pontificating chapters. I would like to try a Constance Garnett translation, simply because she is David Garnett’s mother (I think – some relative, anyway.)

    I have to say, I think Wuthering Heights is astonishingly powerful, but I hated it – and Jane Eyre I thought very good, but nowhere near as good as a lot of people think it. For my money, Agnes Grey remains the best written novel by either Anne or Charlotte (although I’ve not read Shirley or The Professor.)

    1. She is his mother. Have you read his novel Beany-Eye? It’s is my favorite of his books and has wonderful and affectionate fictional portrayals of both his parents.

      1. Ah, I haven’t, but I think I have it. I’ve read Lady into Fox, A Man at the Zoo, Aspects of Love, and… another one, I’m sure. Hmm.

      2. Simon — I have not read as many of his novels but his three volumes of memoirs were terrific I thought. Incidentally, in Beany-eye his mother is in the midst of translating — if memory serves and I think it does — Anna Karenina.

    2. Thanks Simon! It is compulsive reading despite its clunkiness, which is what makes it such an intriguing and maddening book! I’m not sure it would be your cup of tea, but you should give it a go at some point. The Garnett translation isn’t bad, I don’t think, though she did skip bits she didn’t understand, so bear that in mind! And yes she was Garnett’s mother – quite the woman by all accounts!

      Simon, I am surprised by your Bronte views! Agnes Grey is very good, but I think Tenant is better. Actually, I think the best written Bronte book by a country mile is Villette, but it doesn’t pack the same emotional punch with me that Jane Eyre does. I don’t ‘get’ Wuthering Heights at all – it reads like terrible teenage fan fiction to me!

  17. I have just recently discovered your blog and really like it. I read Anna Karenina a few years ago and I did love it but I got interested in your discussion about the classics. I believe all of the classic novels have something to tell us at some point. If you are not enjoying Anna Karenina at the moment perhaps it just means that it is not the right time for you to read it. You might love it in ten or fifteen years time as a result of different experiences you might have by then gone through in life!!

    1. Hello Lorena, lovely to hear from you! I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog! Yes you are quite right – I do think there is a time and a place for many novels and something that doesn’t speak to you now might do later. I did love AK when I read it ten years ago, so maybe I am just not in the right place at the moment to appreciate it in the same way.

  18. Ha! lots of response to this one, Rachel.

    I would like to thank you for saving me from Anna K. You are a sure guide when it comes to wading through books many people cannot (or won’t) give the time to and then giving your refreshing opinion.

    I agree totally with your comments on Wuthering Heights. I’ve tried, and failed, to admire it. No go. And I’m a big fan of passion and giving up everything for love!

    1. I know, it’s proving to be quite the discussion, isn’t it? I’m loving hearing people’s views.

      Oh Chrissy! Don’t let me put you off! You might love it!

      I’m so glad you’re another person who doesn’t get WH – we’re in good company! Such a strange book!

  19. Courtship Russian style:

    ‘You have killed a bear, I hear?’ said Kitty, vainly trying to catch a wayward, slippery pickled mushroom with her fork. (Pt IV ch 9).

    LOL.

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