Thursday, January 24, 2019

When I was 21 I read Anna Karenina. I thought Anna and Vronsky were soulmates. They were deeply in love and therefore had to be together. I found Karenin cruel and oppressive for keeping his wife from her destiny. Levin and Kitty and the peasants bored me. I read those parts quickly. Last year I turned 49, and read the book again. This time, I loved Levin and Kitty. I loved the fact that after she declined his proposal he waited for a long time to mend his hurt feelings and then asked her again. I loved that she had grown up in the interim and now felt grateful for a second chance. Anna and Vronsky bored me. I thought Anna was selfish and shrill. My heart went out to poor Karenin, who tried to be decent. What has literature taught me about love? Literature (along with experience) has taught me that love means different things at different points in our lives, and that often as we get older we gravitate toward the quieter, kinder plot lines, and find them to be richer than we had originally understood them to be.
~Ann Patchett, A Sentimental Education - Writers on Love


I feel the same way about these characters in AK. I only read the book once in my 40's so I didn't have the opportunity to compare the two differing perspectives. But I distinctly remember confusion over why Anna gets top billing as if this is her story. Levin and Kitty are far more interesting so it might have been more appropriate to title the book Kitty Scherbatsky. 

One book I did read twice and had totally different takes on was Dr. Zhivago. In my 20s Yuri Zhivago was Dr. Dreamy *sigh* But in my 40s he was nothing but an adulterous cad. I couldn't believe I fell for him! The scenery sure was lovely though. Isn't reading great? Carry on.