I can't believe I have finished reading Anna Karenina!
I'm surprised with part 8, we spend very little time with Anna. Much less than I expected. Tolstoy really enjoyed writing Levin - I would be interested to know if there is a personal connection to Levin's character.
If you haven't read Anna yet, please read it! It's a wonderful story, filled with society, Russian life, relationships, depression and so much more.
I am using Oprah's discussion guide, the recap below is from her website.
Part Eight: The End: A New Beginning
The novel that began with the idea of family happiness comes to its greatly anticipated end with a personal goal of goodness. In the finale of the novel, Russians go to war, Levin's baby recognizes "his own people," and Levin discovers a new faith and philosophy of life—a faith he realizes he has been living all along without fully recognizing it. For Anna, the experience of love led to death; for Levin, the experience of death has led him to a new love of life. Levin is no stranger to the despair that overwhelms Anna and even contemplates suicide for himself, yet he goes on living—and making a life for himself that seems incredibly full.
And what of Anna? Tolstoy gives us one last glimpse of his heroine the way Vronsky saw her after her death at the train station. With the terrible image of Anna's death head seared into his memory, Vronsky can no longer recall Anna as she was when he first knew her—beautiful, loving, hoping for happiness, and ripe with promise. But we can pay appropriate homage to Anna if we so choose.
When first editing the book for publication, Tolstoy's editor refused to publish Part Eight—Tolstoy incurred the cost of publishing the last section of the novel himself.
Questions for Part 8:
1. Were you surprised this part began talking about Sergei's book, after the dramatic conclusion of Part Seven? Talk about why you think the author made this choice. If I'm being honest, I didn't remember that Sergei was writing a book so I was surprised that part 8 started this way. Tolstoy keeps us wondering for a while how Anna's death was revealed and the reactions. We expect everything to happen so quickly today but I'm satisfied with the pace of part 8.
2. In the end, how do you feel about Levin's relationship with Kitty? Are they a happily married couple? Thinking back on the passage that opens the novel, would you think they are an example of a happy or unhappy family? I believe they are happy and will be just fine. I was concerned for Levin just after the baby was born but now I think he loves him and wants to provide for his family. The passage that makes me feel everything will be okay happens to be in part 8 - when Kitty calls him into the changing room so show Levin their son is interacting and healthy. There was a sense of contentment after reading this part of Levin's journey.
3. Now that you've experienced each character's journey fully, which character do you feel you identify with most...and why? I have eluded to my feelings about characters throughout the process but will tell you my connection was stronger to the women and their activities. I was invested. I can't pick one character that I identified with more than another. Looking back over the novel I almost wonder if this book was written for men and the women were woven in. The novel spends quite a bit of time with Levin and his personal journey. I appreciated Levin but he wasn't excited to read.