Book Club with a Tea Tie-In
Has anyone seen the movie yet?
Also, look at this tea from The London Tea Room – Tolstoy’s Samovar!
We don’t have the samovar, but we do have a blend very similar to what Tolstoy and his compatriots would have enjoyed on a cold Russian night. Of the soul.”
I was at the London Tea Room the other day, & I thought about buying some Tolstoy’s Samovar & offering it as another tea to send everyone, but I didn’t.
You have already been so kind by sharing the St. Valentine’s tea, Terri! It’s just nice to know that there are so many Anna K-ish teas floating around :)
I took a whip of Tolstoy’s Sam. It is a smokey tea, somewhat like Lapsang. If it had roses & other flavors, I probably would have bought some. Sometime when I’m there I’ll sample it, maybe…
I haven’t seen the movie. I’m just trying to get to the end of the book!
Wow, Tolstoy’s Samovar! : ) Good find!
I have not seen the movie. Yet. : ) It looks so gorgeous! I did, however, begin the BBC series. I just watched a short amount of it so far (streaming on netflix) but it was wonderful, I thought.
Ohhhh I didn’t know there was a BBC series! Guess I know what I’ll be watching tonight. I saw the movie yesterday and LOVED it!
Read any good books lately? Sip any good teas?; )
Guides like this one can be great for getting a conversation started. I’ll be thinking about the questions while I drink some tea.
First off I’m going to share the ‘tea’ :
I chose this to provide a caffeine free alternative to TRoT’s Anna Karenina tie-in tea, for any caffeine sensitive steepster readers. With plenty of milk and sweetener, this infusion tasted like a strawberry cream chocolate. For me, that’s a once in a while kind of treat. :)
The moment of truth has come. There are so many points to discuss we will probably end up with multiple threads on this…so it does not really matter where we start, right?
I am kind of an outsider in the USA (long story) and I don’t know if it is cool to start with what Oprah wrote, but as I was reading her musings on the parts that she was reading I came upon a thought that is very tempting while reading all novels: what would have happened if things had happened in a different way from what actually happened? You know like when Tess D’Uberville puts a letter under the door and thinks the guy found it, and the letter gets under the carpet and he never sees it?
Oprah wrote about the situation right after the ball:
“Are you cheering for Anna to learn from her brother’s mistakes and stay faithful to her husband? Or are you secretly hoping that Vronsky will find a way to steal Anna away from Karenin? (…) Which ideals will stand—family and honor, or the heat of the heart?”
Of course with the straight and narrow there would be no literature… but oh, the pain, so much pain to so many people involved! Am I getting stripped of all emotion in my old age?
Another thought – what was your favorite scene/description/event etc?
I, for some reason, am enchanted by the idea of Anna and Vronsky having the same, peculiar dream – the old peasant muttering in French. An online translator has him saying “It’s necessary to beat the iron, the printing instrument, the kneading!”
My vote here was for her to follow her heart. Anna’s brother and Dolly stay together, but I wouldn’t say it’s a happy marriage. It was an interesting parallel with the two relationships, especially with starting the book off this way.
Excellent question, TeaRunner. What I felt about that was: I felt sad that Anna had less choices than I do, for example, based on the time and place I live in. I felt that staying in her marriage was not right for her, but neither was just taking off with Vronsky. I felt enormous sympathy for all involved.
Oh that image of the muttering peasant: so haunting and creepy, I thought that was genius.
I am glad that Anna and Vronsky had their happiness together, but it did cause so much pain and heartbreak to so many. I agree with Serenity that if this story had taken place in modern day times Anna and Karenin would probably had never been married and she would’ve been free to marry for love. I think it really goes to show how much love was between Anna and Vronsky that she chose to go against everything she’s known her whole life and all of society to be with him.
Personally, I think Anna & Vronsky should have packed up her son, changed their names, & took the first boat to America, where they would have started with nothing but their love, but that would have allowed them to bypass all the shame & BS that went with it. Of course, what do I know?
In a modern day setting, Anna would have been diagnosed with depression, sent to rehab, & probably been put on meds.
I’m gonna confess right now that all the angst & emotional drama got a little tedious for me after awhile…sorry.
I imagine we’ll have multiple thread on the book, but here’s a question for everyone:
What did you guys think, overall? (Was it absolutely amazing? Is it something you would re-read? Any regrets?)
Personally, I was a little disappointed. I enjoyed the story, but I will never re-read it. I had a hard time with some of the characters and sympathizing with them. Once I realised that Anna would never be happy with her husband it made no sense to stay with him and try to work things out – the romantic in me wanted her to move on with Vronsky and live as happily as she could.
But she didn’t. Her husband eventually agrees to the divorce about midway through the book, and then she elopes to Europe with Vronksy and humiliates Karenin. And then she regrets not getting the divorce for the rest of the book. Why didn’t she do it?
And I sympathize with her not being able to see her son, but couldn’t he have gone with her? For a while there, her husband wanted nothing to do with him – she could have had the opportunity there. Or if she was running off to Europe anyway, couldn’t she have ‘stolen’ him? I was saddened that she focused so much on the child she had ‘lost’ and then completely ignores her beautiful baby girl. This is the child of her lover! (Also, it’s her own baby and she cannot love it – I know it’s not fair but as a first time mom with an 8 month old I just cannot fathom that, although I know people out there are like that).
Now, on to Levin and Kitty. I loved their story and the romance/ups and downs. I particularly loved how Levin thought that the entire world was celebrating along with him once he got Kitty to agree to marry him – very cute. But it went on too long. By the end of the book I found myself skimming his parts because I didn’t care for all the discussions and philosphizing. Philosophy isn’t my thing I guess.
Now – from what I’ve heard from everyone else, I think I’m in the minority. So, tell me how you loved it! :D
I agree with Cavocorax. I am glad to have had the experience of reading this book (and being able to discuss it now with all of you fine people) but I do not think that I will read it again. I found parts of it difficult to get through, although I enjoyed the overall story.
I too was discouraged with Anna being so wishy-washy in her actions and what she actually wanted. How different the story could’ve been if she had taken up Karenin on his first offer of divorce – it may have ended happily after all. If she decided to make the decision to go against society by being openly in a relationship with Vronsky she should’ve stuck with that decision and followed it through. By officially divorcing and ending things with Karenin she would’ve been kinder to him in the long run.
As for Levin and Kitty I very much enjoyed their story and I think it is probably a very realistic portrayal of how marriage worked in those times – every parent wanted their child to marry as high up as possible. So of course Kitty’s head would be turned by the handsome Vronsky. I was so happy when she and Levin finally were together, after that confusion of a wedding! I did get tired of the constant musings of Levin on philosophy, so I must not be very philosophical either! I think Tolstoy’s writings of the politics, etc. were probably eagerly read when the work was originally published, but I found it hard to concentrate on his points and relate them to our modern world.
Overall, I wasn’t really that into the book. That’s probably why it’s taken me so long to read it (I’m at 97%…sigh…)
I agree, Anna should have gotten over her ‘emo’ tendencies & accepted the divorce when Karenin first offered it. I feel like she started out as such a strong & charismatic character, only to descend into being a whiner, by the end of the book I was ready for her to end it all, & grateful for it.
On the other hand, I loved Kitty & Levin, was so happy when they finally hooked up! Even though they also had issues & drama, they talked it out each time & grew their relationship in the process.
Unlike others, my favorite part of the book was the philosophizing! Call me a wierdo, but I found that part quite interesting! My favorite character was Levin.
I think it’s particularly of interest that so many of the topics of discussion apply to our current world, & it just serves to remind us that no matter how good our technology gets, no matter how far we advance in science, etc, people are people. We have always basically been the same, and we will always be the same. There are good honest people, there are people who are always depressed, there are greedy people. Societies really haven’t changed much either. There may be a revolution once in awhile somewhere, but it always goes back to the status quo eventually, where some people have most of the money, & the rest of us are ‘peasants’.
On a literary note, Tolstoy did an excellent job of showing us the difference between dysfunctional relationships & a healthy relationship. He also did do well @ getting into the head of the various characters & their thinking processes.
Terri, I do agree that Tolstoy did a good job explaining the character’s thought process. For example, Oblonsky’s thoughts that justified his dalliances with other women. It was comical in a way! Also, Levin’s embarrassment at being rejected by Kitty and his efforts to try to forget her – I swear I felt his pain while I was reading those parts of the book!
No, I don’t think I’ll re-read, but so glad I finally read it thanks to Josie’s suggestion! So many parts were written so incredibly well that I was just amazed.
My overall impression is that this is a good story but not casual reading. It made me think and feel about the characters, the situations and ponder about Russian society back in the day compared to our modern lives. I found myself reading other “fluffy” short stories in between to combat the denseness and I guess I hoped that things would turn out happier :) I think this was one of the slowest readings I’ve had, for me it was hard to keep interest in Levin’s thoughts all the time. I’m glad to finish and some parts were interesting but I doubt I’ll re-read it.
every post on this thread has turned into a thread in itself! haha. the story starts out so controversial and despite its deceptively comical opening, quickly draws you into the hearts of the characters.
i have to admit that i listened to the audio more than read the book which is a first for me but somehow it seemed just right.
i would like to read a soft copy of the book as reading a novel online takes some getting used to.
Did anyone else find it amusing how every single relationship in the book (Anna/Karenin, Anna/Vronsky, Dolly/Oblonsky, especially Kitty/Levin, even Lydia/husband that she no longer speaks to after just 2 months of marriage) was extremely immature? I don’t know if it was just the time period, but it seemed like everyone tiptoed around their true feelings and there was so much unwarranted jealousy! I mean, they were stuck together in marriage since divorce was so taboo, so you’d think that they’d take every possible step towards a lasting reconciliation. Perhaps if they had just all sit down and ‘had it out’ with each other they could’ve had such a better understanding of each other and poor Anna wouldn’t have come to the end that she did.
yeah! I don’t know if Tolstoy lacked relationship skills himself, or what, but it was like a soap opera!
maybe the weakness of the characters gave a lot of people something to relate to since we all at some point in our relationships have done stupid things.
i think this story is a good way to vicariously learn coz it puts us in the place of the people in dilemmas that we may find ourselves in. it helps us decide even now what we would do if faced with similar circumstances.
I really enjoyed reading the book and was totally amazed at how easy the book was to read. I never understood why Karenin would not agree to a divorce, and when he did, Anna refused and then regretted that decision. It does just go to show that even beautiful, well put together people are insecure just like the rest of us! I never understood why she did not love the baby?!
When she committed suicide, I was done with the book. I read it all, but the last part was pure torture to read with all of Levin’s musings on Christianity. Just have faith man! Anna just needed to have faith in what her and Vronsky had…such a pitiful end to a beautiful romance.
I do agree that how Kitty and Levin handled their difficulties is the ideal way. They were the true love story of the book.
Yeah, I honestly think she was suffering from post partem depression! That would explain alot, including her disinterest in Annie.
I felt as though Anna invested so much of her sense of self in her taboo love for Vronsky, that she lost her center. She had no internal sense of her worth, her soul. She just lived in fear of losing him because she was isolated, living outside society— I found that so troubling—and worse still when she did not bond with Annie. Her attachment to her son, too, felt flawed to me. Combine that all with PPD and yeah, you’ve got a woman at risk for sure.
I also reflected on how love between couples moves from infatuation to attachment, and how Anna and Vronsky did not have much support for developing this healthy relationship built on attachment due to her being so terrified of losing him, her jealousy.
Just some musings to chime in here…
I almost feel like Anna and Vronsky were doomed from the very beginning. As a reader you are cheering for them to be together, but in the back of your mind you know it can’t end well. She is outcast by society, his family despises her, they have an illegitimate child and her husband won’t let her see her son – it’s basically a recipe for disaster!
So…who has seen the movie?
If you saw it, what did you think?
If you haven’t seen it, do you plan to?
Not yet, but would like to. Have just started the BBC series though, on netflix, streaming.
Yes, I watched it this past Monday (right after I finished the book). I LOVED the movie – I thought it was very creative and well done. It follows along the book pretty well also, and I feel like it portrays the character’s feelings pretty accurately for a film. I don’t know if someone who hasn’t read the book would enjoy it as much, or at least understand everything, but I will definitely be renting it to watch again when it comes out on DVD – on February 13th!
I would really like to see the movie, it didnt come to my theater so I’ll have to catch it on DVD. The previews looked beautiful.
This passage about Vronsky makes me wonder how sincerely attached he was to Anna. How much of his passion was love, and how much was the thrill of chasing something you can’t have? Maybe Anna was justified in her insecurities.
“He felt himself inexpressibly unhappy now, because his passion for Anna, which had been cooling, as it had seemed to him, in recent days, now, when he knew he had lost her for ever, had become stronger than it had ever been”. -p509, particular, XVIII
(this is after Anna has her baby, and is forgiven by her husband, and before Vronsky shoots himself)
Right? I felt that their relationship could not flourish the way things were. For any couple, that transition from non-stop passion to a deeper attachment is rocky, and for them—so much was against them. And they did not feel right about being together, they both felt guilty, I thought.
I had exactly the same feeling – he feels for her more every time it looks like he may lose her, but at other times he cools off!
And how true about the hardships of the transition to deeper attachment, even in the best of circumstances!
I feel differently. I think that Vronsky deeply loved Anna. He too risked a lot just to be with her. I think that perhaps when it talks about his ‘cooling off’ of his feelings for her that it didn’t mean he began loving her any less, just perhaps the strain of Anna’s constant jealousies was wearing him down. Every relationship is amazingly passionate at first, and that cools as you settle into becoming a couple and living your lives together, and I’m sure this happened more quickly than usual for Anna and Vronsky since they were experiencing so many other stresses. I think that the part where Vronsky (and in turn, Dolly) is trying to convince Anna to ask for a divorce shows that he was ready to fully commit himself to her for the rest of their lives. He was far from losing affection for her, rather he wanted to make it official so that they could be a couple in society together.
Just my take on it. I loved Vronsky’s character and I prefer to view him as a total romantic who was hopelessly in love with Anna and didn’t know how to deal with her emotional issues. If only there were a sequel to find out what happens to him – that’s what I want to know most of all!
I agree with Josie, I think Vronsky truly loved Anna, and I do think she truly loved him, too. That was one of the things that made it so sad, to me: their love just couldn’t find its footing and develop with the way things were.
Anna and Vronsky each have issues that make their relationship dysfunctional but i think that to suffer through what they did takes deep feelings and attachments… otherwise, why put yourself through that for a long time?