Anna Karenina

This is the book that Rory and Dean discuss after she lent it to him. Anna Karenina is a novel by Russian author Leo Tolstoy, first published in book form in 1878. It is the tragic story of Countess Anna Karenina, a socialite and married woman, and her doomed love affair with the wealthy Count Vronsky. It is widely regarded as a pinnacle of realist fiction, and one of the greatest novels of all time. Rory had to read the book for her English Literature class the previous semester.

Dean dutifully read it, but found it depressing as the heroine throws herself under a train, believing that suicide is the only way out of her relationship dilemmas. He thought the book was too long (it’s about a thousand pages), and too confusing as “every single’s person’s name ends in -ski” (in fact, of the main characters, only Count Vronsky and Anna’s brother Prince Oblonsky have names that end in this sound).

Dean believes the book is a little over his head, but Rory insists that Tolstoy wrote for the common man, and you don’t have to be a genius to understand him. Rory asks that Dean try reading the book again, as it is beautiful, and one of her favourite books. Dean actually agrees to this, which is a real sacrifice considering the length of the book and that he’d found it a difficult read. It seems Rory just won’t stop trying to force Dean to become a lover of classic literature.

Of course what Dean just isn’t picking up on is that Rory keeps romanticising heroines who cheat on their partners, from Anna Karenina to Emma Bovary to Lexie from Ice Castles. It’s a red flag of which Dean remains blissfully unaware. (More worryingly, both Anna and Emma commit suicide to escape their extra-marital woes – does Rory also romanticise self-destruction?)

The doomed love of Anna Karenina, and Rory and Dean’s very different appraisals of it, are a sign of things to come.

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