Together in Spirit

An online reading group ('TIS a reading group!) to bring together friends, and friends of friends, who aren't able to be in a conventional reading group due to constraints of time or geography.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Anna K and Joan D

I thoroughly enjoyed reading AK, disappearing into another set of lives so much that they became real enough for me to want to know what happened next. I was sorry I knew that Anna killed herself because I don’t think I’d have expected that till near the end. Like Emily, I couldn’t understand Anna and therefore why everyone melted before her. Why she emotionally abandoned her daughter by her great love was not clear to me (yes it happens, but I needed to know why in her case). For me she was so incompletely drawn that the claims for this to be the greatest novel are quite unfounded.

I did, however, really enjoy the side issues around Levin and his attempts to understand and reform Russian agriculture. I guess many would have skipped that bit but if you want to understand the Russian Revolution, you really need this back story. Levin, in contrast to Anna, was a complete character and modelled, I believe, on Tolstoy himself or at least on Tolstoy’s own farming experiments. I also seem to remember that he, Tolstoy, was a genuine mcp, so maybe we shouldn’t expect insights into women? Emily and I are planning to watch the DVD together (hope you remember it when you come Helen) so may return to the subject then.

I have rather less to say about the Magical thinking year as I found it so irritating that I skipped my way to the end, something I almost never do (if it isn’t worth reading properly, it isn’t worth reading, but blogging requires that you do). If it helped JD through what is an unimaginable time, that I’m glad she wrote it for her own sake. But for me it was badly written, boring and so introspective it felt more like a self-help manual, which I guess in fact is was. I hate self-help manuals. I can’t back up that list with examples from the text as I couldn’t send it back to the library quickly enough.