Classics Book Group: Anna Karenina, or why you never read the same book twice!

photoThere was another good meeting of the Wokingham Library Classics Book Group this month, with the novel under the microscope being Tolstoy’s ‘Anna Karenina’. Two new members joined us for the discussion.

For some of us, this was a debut read; for others, another outing with a well-loved story. What struck those who’d read it before was how their opinion of the major characters had changed over time, as we viewed them through the prism of our own life experience.

Some of us loved the rural episodes, showing Russia moving slowly away from feudalism; for others it was the spot-on petty snobberies and interplay of high society that were most striking. All were agreed that Tolstoy was very bold to publish such a controversial story at that time (1873-1877), almost two decades before ‘Tess of the D’Urbevilles’, which also tells of a ‘fallen woman’, received a brutally hostile reception in Britain.

As so often happens in reading the classics, we mused on how restricted the lives of women were: not just in being economically dependent on their fathers or husbands, but in having no rights at all to their own children if they strayed off the straight and narrow of society’s expectations.

Looking ahead…

As the days begin draw in, the line-up for the next few meetings is very appealing:

  • September 17th: Graham Greene – ‘The Quiet American’
  • October 15th: Edith Wharton – ‘Ethan Frome’ and/or ‘The Age of Innocence’
  • November 19th: Rosamund Lehmann – ‘The Weather in the Streets’
  • December 17th: Harper Lee – ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’

All gatherings are on a Thursday evening and are from 18.30 till the library closes at 20.00 (with the debate often being carried on in the car park!).

We’ll soon be starting to plan our reading list for 2016. Why not come and share a well-loved classic with us?

Classics Bookgroup member


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