Considered by some to be the greatest novel ever written, Anna Karenina is Tolstoy's classic tale of love and adultery set against the backdrop of high society in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. A rich and complex masterpiece, the novel charts the disastrous course of a love affair between Anna, a beautiful married woman, and Count Vronsky, a wealthy army officer. Tolstoy seamlessly weaves together the lives of dozens of characters, and in doing so captures a breathtaking tapestry of late-nineteenth-century Russian society. As Matthew Arnold wrote in his celebrated essay on Tolstoy, "We are not to take Anna Karenina as a work of art; we are to take it as a piece of life."
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Okay, yes, this is Big Serious Russian Literature. But put that out of your mind! When you get right down to it, Anna Karenina is the story of a smart, passionate woman whose ultimate unraveling is as heartbreaking as that of any of our favorite romantic heroines, from the Brontës to Jojo Moyes. Leo Tolstoy skillfully weaves the romance between the countess Anna and the debonair cavalry officer Vronsky into a wider story of politics, class, and religion. It’s like getting a fascinating lesson in 19th century history alongside a deeply emotional love story. And did we mention it’s kinda sexy?