Not really what I was expecting at all. I was expecting a big torrid love affair. Okay, so there was some of that but the book isn't just about Karenina and the scandal she causes. Sure it's a big part of it but there are other characters in there who had just as large of a story to tell. I liked the story of Anna and Vronsky. Although I have to say I felt very little sympathy for them. He came across as selfish and spoiled wanting a new toy only to discard it when he grew bored. Eventually though he grows up and actually becomes a more likeable character for it. Anna begins as likeable and slowly throws that away. She becomes jealous and irrational and despite how much she loves her son she still leaves him behind.
The two character I really loved were part of the secondary storyline. I loved Kitty and Levin. I have always said that I don't have a romantic bone in my body but I couldn't help but want the best for these characters. I wanted their romance to spark and for them to be happy. Sure, Levin was a little irritating, moody and self involved at times but that didn't stop me from liking him. I also loved Anna's sister in law, Dolly, who is a suffering wife but clearly dotes on her children.
If none of these things appeal to you then there is the political aspect. It portrayed the Russian elite as spoiled, frivolous and at times work shy. Through Levin and a few other characters it gave a sounding board to some of the political changes that were beginning to take place in Russia then. That alone was interesting. I always seemed to concentrate on Russian history whilst at University which is why I found it so fascinating.
So many different facets to this wonderful book it would need more than one post to cover it all. I think that most people would get something from it. It's not just a tragic love story. Needless to say that this is now one of my favourite classics. I definitely recommend it. I will say though that if you aren't used to Russian literature (which I'm not) the names can be confusing. Stick with it though as you do get used to it.
If you are wondering about this lovely cover it's part of the Penguin red classics series. Not only do you get a pretty book but 50% of the profits from this book goes to the Global Fund to help eliminate AIDS in Africa. I don't work for penguin, honest.