I first heard of Anna Karenina from Fred Astaire, as his character coached Audrey Hepburn's in Funny Face.
Now, today you're not happy.
- I'm hurt and...
- Right, a creature of tragedy. Heartbroken, suffering. You're Anna Karenina.
-Shall I throw myself under the train?
You'd think that, being such a Hepburn fan, I would have remembered the quote better, but I SO did NOT see it coming. (I could feel it coming, though, as the train ride progressed, and the delicious, mounting tension made me doubly glad that I do not use sparknotes.)
This was my big book of 2009. This and Les Miserables. Which wasn't so ambitious, when I look at all I accomplished in 2008. But to each year its own novels.
Anna was so different from War and Peace. So much more a character-driven novel, but so many of the same types... Levin is Pierre, Anna is Natalia, etc. etc.
And I just about screamed with laughter when Anna is writing a children's book. Bored out of her head, so what does she do? Writes a children's book, of course. Everybody thinks they can write a children's book--even Anna Karenina.
I liked this quote, randomly:
"...you have no idea how, when I look at you, I am always learning what awaits me--the education of my children."
"Oh come! There's nothing to learn from me!" said Lvov.
"All I know," said Levin, "is that I never saw better brought-up children, and do not wish for better children."
Lvov visibly tried to restrain the expression of his delight, but a radiant smile lit up his face.
"If only they turn out better than I! That is all I desire. You do not know yet all the difficulties one has with boys who, like mine, have been neglected through our life abroad."
"They'll catch it all up. They are such gifted children. The chief thing is the moral training. That is what I learn by watching your children."
"You talk of moral training. You can't imagine how difficult that is! You have hardly mastered one fault when another crops up and there is a fresh struggle. One must have the support of religion--you remember we talked about that--no father, relying on his own strength, without that support, could educate a child."
"Yes, all the newspapers do say the same thing," said the prince. "That's true. So much the same that they are just like frogs before a storm. They prevent our hearing anything else!"