At its simplest, Anna Karenina is a love story. It is a portrait of a beautiful and intelligent woman whose passionate love for a handsome officer sweeps aside all other ties - to her marriage and to the network of relationships and moral values that bind the society around her. The love affair of Anna and Vronsky is played out alongside the developing romance of Kitty and Levin, and in the character of Levin, closely based on Tolstoy himself, the search for happiness takes on a deeper philosophical significance.
One of the greatest novels ever written, Anna Karenina combines penetrating psychological insight with an encyclopedic depiction of Russian life in the 1870s. The novel takes us from high society St Petersburg to the threshing fields on Levin's estate, with unforgettable scenes at a Moscow ballroom, the skating rink, a race course, a railway station. It creates an intricate labyrinth of connections that is profoundly satisfying, and deeply moving.
Rosamund Bartlett's translation conveys Tolstoy's precision of meaning and emotional accuracy in an English version that is highly readable and stylistically faithful. Like her acclaimed biography of Tolstoy, it is vivid, nuanced, and compelling.