- If you fancy reading Tolstoy, but don’t want to read War and Peace (because it’s too big or too obvious) then Anna Karenina is a good choice: It has short (toilet-sized) chapters and is easy to read.
- Because it is easy to read I didn’t find the prose particularly beautiful or profound though.
- Tolstoy does stream-of-conciousness better than James Joyce.
- I thought I was going to guess the ending (thanks to the blurb on the back, “it ends tragically”), but didn’t.
- Despite the size and sometimes unwarranted detail on supporting characters and situations, you are still left wondering a lot about what happened afterwards to other characters.
- The continuing theme that contrasts and shows conflicts between country and city living struck a chord with me. Where is better for the soul? Country living is hard and perhaps keeps you too busy to think too much, but is that a good thing? This is something we are thinking about at the moment as a family.
- A couple of times a question is posed as to whether parents should sacrifice everything for their children or whether the parents should have the fineries in the life whilst the children get by with less. There is talk about a swing from one to the other in a generation; I wonder if it is cyclic? Certainly, for me, the past six years have felt very much like “Parents now are not expected to live at all, but to exist altogether for their children”; Although I would say that expectation comes not so much from other parents, but from the children. Natalia Alexandrovna gets it right: “No, extremes are not good in anything”.
[EDIT: 2016-07-23] I think I actually meant Virginia Woolf does stream of consciousness better, which she does, because I had started reading that at this time and I just got my notes confused.