So, the thought of reading a re-telling of the story with elite, privileged teenagers standing in for Russian nobles of the day seemed like a good way of getting a taste of the story without necessarily having to commit weeks of my life to actually reading it.
Jenny Lee’s Anna K is the potato chip version of reading classic literature — tastes great in the moment, but it doesn’t have any long term nutritional value.
Anna K is the nearly perfect daughter of her family, dating the elite, older guy who is known as the Greenwich OG. Her brother, Stephen sends for her (she lives in her own house to be closer to her riding horses and to care for her show-breed dogs) when his girlfriend, Lollie finds out he’d been cheating on her. On her train ride into Manhatten, Anna meets Count Veronsky, a notorious playboy among her elite social circles. The two are immediately smitten and spend much of the novel denying their attraction to each other, only to give in to their feelings and the inevitable consequences.
Marketed as a Gossip Girl meets Crazy Rich Asians, Anna K is a novel that overstays its welcome at times, especially in the middle third of the book when it seems like it’s little more than Anna and Veronsky trying to come into each other’s orbits and denying their feelings for each other. There is a large, diverse cast to the book, many of whom are more interesting than others. The love story of Kimmie and Dustin is nicely done and there were times I found myself wishing we could focus on their story instead of what was developing for Anna K. Because as hard as the novel tries to make us feel for Anna K, I couldn’t help but become a bit tired of her at times.
Whether or not Anna K remains quite as timeless as the original source material remains to be seen. After reading/listening to it, I can’t help but feel like this is a story that has an expiration date simply because Lee peppers the story with too many modern references and allusions.
But if you’re looking for an easy way to read the story of Anna Karenina without having to invest your time over a couple of hundred pages, this might be a good way to go. However, I did walk away from this one feeling like maybe I should pick up the original novel and see how it compares to this modern re-telling.