Large Print Reviews
By Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy
Reviewed by Simone Bonim - July 6, 2009
Anna Karenina is a classic story of love gone terribly wrong. It has also been called one of the greatest novels ever written. I don't know if I'd go that far, but it is definitely in the top ten! The story follows the adventures of Anna Karenina, a member of the Russian aristocracy, whose life takes an unexpected turn when she breaks her marriage vows and begins a love affair with the debonair Count Vronsky. Set in nineteenth-century Russia, this is an epic tale filled with passion, adventure, betrayal, danger, controversy, and just about everything in between.
In addition to the main storyline, Tolstoy also gives readers a peak inside the world of Russian aristocrats, which faced many of the same problems faced by English aristocrats of the period - there was a servant problem, they were constrained by social norms that were out of sync with the times, they had to walk a tightrope when dealing with those in power above them while trying not to alienate those beneath them. Tolstoy interweaves the social ills of the period, and the innate hypocrisies of aristocratic society into this masterpiece, while at the same time offering up a page turning story that will resonate with readers from every walk of life. As such, Anna Karenina is one of the finest examples of realist fiction - i.e., fiction that shows life as it really was/is. Tolstoy's other great work of realist fiction was his epic novel, War and Peace.
I don't want to say too much about the story itself, for it would be way too easy to give the story away, and I would hate to take away any of the enjoyment that readers will have in discovering the intricacies of this story on their own. Anna Karenina is a book to be savored, and one to be read over and over, for each time you read this tale, you will gain new insights and a greater appreciate for the genius that was Leo Tolstoy!
It is helpful to know in advance, who all the main characters in this novel are, and their nicknames, as it can be difficult at times to keep track of all the Russian names without a scorecard! So here is a short list of some of the key characters in this tale:
Written by Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy, Anna Karenina originally began life in 1873 as a serialized story in a Russian magazine. However, the magazine failed to complete publication of the story, so readers had to wait until it was published in book format in 1877 to discover how the story ended. I doubt that it has ever been out of print since it was first published as a complete edition. In fact, Anna Karenina has garnered so much fame that not only has it been made into several movies, television shows, and radio broadcasts. As well, there have also been several operas written based upon Anna Karenina, and there has even been a ballet produced that was based upon the book! This wonderful book was given new life in 2004 when Oprah Winfrey made it one of her book club selections, introducing this book to thousands, if not millions, of new readers.
- Anna Arkadyevna Karenina, the star of this novel.
- Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin, Anna's husband.
- Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky, her lover.
- Prince Stepan Arkadyevitch Oblonsky (Stiva), Anna's brother
- Princess Darya Alexandrovna Oblonskaya (Dolly), Anna's sister-in-law, and wife to her brother Stiva.
- Princess Ekaterina Alexandrovna Shcherbatskaya (Kitty), Dolly's sister.
This English edition of Anna Karenina features a marvelous translation. While the translator's name is not noted in the book, they are owed a debt of thanks as they did an excellent job translating this book into English. The translator has crafted a fluid narrative that gives a powerful voice to Tolstoy's writing. In short, this translation of Anna Karenina was a pleasure to read, and the story itself is unforgettable. And perhaps most important, at least to me, was that this super large print edition from Read How You Want (RHYW), gave me the opportunity to comfortably read this outstanding classic. I found the large font size (20 pt in this case), compared to standard sized (16 pt) large print books, to be much less fatiguing to read, and I could read for longer periods of time! For those that prefer other sizes, RHYW offers this book in fonts sizes ranging from 11-24, as well as in other formats, such a Braille. I also like that rather than printing this book in one massive volume (the book runs about 850+ pages in standard print), they broke it up into five, much more manageable sized volunes that make it easy and convenient to hold and carry around. All in all, this unqiue format made reading this classic novel an even greater pleasure than I ever expected!
Anna Karenina is available from Read How You Want, an on-demand publisher that makes books available in a variety of formats including Braille, DAISY, and five different large print formats. This range of formats makes this, and other books, available not only to visually impaired individuals, but also anyone with a reading or physical disability that makes reading standard print books difficult.
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- The Gospel in Brief, by Leo Tolstoy.
Seeking answers to "the problem of life," Tolstoy rewrote the Four Gospels of the New Testament, condensing them into a single book that only included the ethical teachings of Jesus.
- Daniel Deronda, by George Eliot.
This was the last novel that Eliot wrote, and in this masterpiece she weaves a compelling tale around Daniel Deronda, the adopted son of an English aristocrat who discovers that he is of Jewish birth.
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