Warning: The following is my honest opinion, and you might not like what I have to say. I first have to say that I really, really wanted to love this book. Two friends of mine have sworn this is one of the best books they have ever read. One of the greatest romances they told me. I was revved up, excited, and ready to dive into my first taste of Russian literature. I didn't care that this book was far longer than I normally read. I should also note that I love classic literature, and read this on my own free will. Not for school, college, or anything. After twelve days...I am underwhelmed.It's not that I hate this book because I don't. It's just not what I hoped it would be. It has nothing to do with length. It has nothing to do with the fact that it was a sprawling over-dramatic soap opera that could possibly be a television series that women watch during the daytime. However it has everything to do with the fact that beyond those things it wasn't my cup of tea. I read the Kindle edition translation, and I could get into the over-usage of adverbs in the translation but I won't. There were times I'm very sure one adverb instead of four or five would do. I mean not to get overindulgent and critique the translation I read, but the best translations are done with getting the atmosphere and the content of the read. If Tolstoy really did use a lot of adverbs, then I guess I'll have to deal with that. Not sure why, but I'll leave it alone. To be honest I loved it in the beginning. The intrigue, the atmosphere, and all the political commentary. My problems with this book however started somewhere around 60% and later (thus the reason I gave this two stars instead of one--it started out a five/four star read). The part of the book I should have been plowing my way through it. To be quite honest at this point it became a chore, and I wanted to finish it. Even my interest in the characters wavered. Let's first begin with the star of the show: Anna Karenina. Throughout the book, despite having a love affair with Vronksy is told to be virtuous and what every woman in the upper class rings of the Russian elite should strive to be. My problem is that I don't think she's virtuous at all. It has nothing to do with cheating on her husband, but the fact that her thought pattern strikes me as unintelligent. I mean throughout the book she battles with her position and what her heart wants. I mean it's the central focus, besides Levin's story. How she doesn't think she is free in what she wants. As the trite saying goes "Money doesn't bring happiness" (or prestige) it's easy to know that Anna will not be happy. My problem is that she's self-centered. She thinks she has it bad, and I guess in her position she does. However that does not excuse her from the fact that she is still not thinking about the larger issues of life. She's a full grown woman, yet the way I viewed her is that she acts like a teenager. She wants to have everything, but in life you can't get everything you want. Sorry Anna life stinks that way, so get over yourself. I guess you did by the end. I was hoping for the romance between Anna and Vronksy to be life-altering and define why she left her husband for him. For someone to give their life for the one they know will never love them. It never happened for me here. I mean if anything Vronksy wasn't a character I could get involved with. He wanted to be with a married woman, who had a son. I mean he was supposed to be with Kitty, of course she really wanted Levin (who she got--then later complained. Seriously? Make up your mind!). The characters are part of an elite class, yet they squabble and think that there life is so horrid. They can't do this, they can't do that. They think they are so virtuous, yet they don't see what is really happening around them. I mean maybe that's why I didn't like this book half as much as I wanted to, the characters full grown adults acted as children. The whole time. From beginning to end. Especially the end, but I won't go into detail why since it would contain spoilers. I couldn't get engaged with most of the characters, of all of them maybe Levin is the best. I mean at least he has some credibility for the fact he wants to be a fair person when it comes to the farm he runs (when everyone else believes what a lowly position he has). At least that's my take. Not sure how he wanted to marry Kitty though. After Anna, she's even more insipid. Besides, considering every other character in this book who was central he was the best character considering he had an even head. If one of the only ones who did. The themes of this book are related to passion, position, free will, politics, religion, philosophy, and everything else that Tolstoy is packing into the 1170 page read. I got what he wanted to say, but I'm sure there were other ways he could have done it. Who to recommend this book to? I guess if you love melodramatic reads, this would be a good book to dig into. If you're a fan of Tolstoy in general you probably have already read this book and think that my review is meaningless and terrible. I must be an uneducated buffoon or what not. I can tell you I appreciate literature. One of my favorite books of all time is "A Tale of Two Cities". I still think that Dickens is one of the best writers I have read (besides Shakespeare, Spenser, and Milton among others). It just wasn't what I hoped it would be, nor was it as great as my friends made it out to be. We're all entitled to our own opinions.