Phew. I am pretty good at reading long novels but this one wore me down and my primary emotion on completion was one of sheer relief. I didn’t blog immediately in an attempt to try to separate out what I really felt about it from that relief – but I am still not really sure. As a creation it is incredible – a detailed insight into a part of history and into the characters’ inner lives. And yet in so many ways it left me cold. Unlike Middlemarch, for example, which is similar in breadth and scope, Anna Karenina did not reach out to me. I felt irritated by having to follow every painstaking inch of the emotional journeys undertaken by the cast, irritated by their self-indulgence and irritated by my inability to like the heroine or indeed anyone else in the book. I can certainly appreciate why Anna Karenina occupies the place it does in the literary canon – just being a novel about a woman and the role of women makes it incredibly special when judged against its time. But somehow that’s not enough and, although I cannot quite put my finger on why, I was left very disappointed.