"Anna Karenina is one of my favorite books. But when I agreed to read it for Audible, I had no idea how much work it would be, how intense it would be, and how deeply I would fall in love with it. There were places where I thought 'if I don't give Alexey Alexandrovitch the respect that he deserves in my reading of this scene, a critical part of the book will be ruined. If I don't give EVERYONE the utmost respect and understanding, I'm not doing justice to this brilliantly compassionate book.' But at the same time, I also wanted to have a light touch in the way I played the different characters, so that the magnificence of the novel could shine through. I feel like performing this novel is one of the major accomplishments of my work life - it was so challenging and so deep, a real pleasure." (Narrator Maggie Gyllenhaal)
Leo Tolstoy's classic story of doomed love is one of the most admired novels in world literature. Generations of readers have been enthralled by his magnificent heroine, the unhappily married Anna Karenina, and her tragic affair with dashing Count Vronsky. Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight, The Honourable Woman) cites Tolstoy's epic as one of her favorite books of all time, and her love for the literature permeates her performance. Anna Karenina is a masterpiece not only because of the unforgettable woman at its core and the stark drama of her fate but also because it explores and illuminates the deepest questions about how to live a fulfilled life.
Public Domain (P)2016 Audible, Inc.
This is story is considered perfect by many, more learned, people than I am, and deservedly so. It is a magnificent epic and sensitively read. The narrator obviously loved this book.
There's no denying that Anna Karenina is a masterpiece, but like all masterpieces, it can also be a hard read. It's long. There are lots of people with confusing names. There are parts about politics that drag on and you have no idea why you're still reading. And did I mention it's long?
Though this has been one of my favorite books for a long time, I'm so glad I decided to listen to the audio version as I think it clarifies some of the things that can be missed in the reading of it. The names for one thing become a lot clearer when you hear someone else say them correctly.
Maggie Gyllenhaal does an outstanding job of the reading and is able to portray the characters and the feeling of each scene in such a perfect way. Some might wonder at the ability to carry off so many male voices without them all blending into one or not seeming masculine enough but she both articulates the individuals and expresses the male characters wonderfully.
Whether you have previously read the book or it's a new work of fiction for you, I highly recommend listening to this version of Anna Karenina.
I'm not sure I would have ever picked up Tolstoy in another format, but the performance by Maggie Gyllenhaal (particularly when she finds her rhythm a few chapters into the book) make this story not just digestible but utterly delightful. Unquestionably Tolstoy was a master of human insight, and his articulation of such diverse characters and their struggles ensure his observations transcend both time and culture.
I've read and loved this book before but Maggie G's exquisite, intuitive, sophisticated reading gave this powerful story new depths. I highly recommend this to fans of Tolstoy and searchers of the perfect narrator. You've found her. Look no further.
"Top Notch Performance"
I've listened to several audiobook recordings of this classic novel. This one may be the best.
The narrator is a famous American actress who obviously devoted a lot of time and effort. I admire her because audiobook narrators are famously underpaid. I'm sure she didn't do this just for the money. You can tell she loves this story, which in my opinion is the greatest love story in novel form.
One of the unique aspects of this version is that most of the other narrators are British. This narrator has a naturally clear and seamless American delivery. It caused me to pick up subtleties that I didn't feel listening to the Brits (though I thoroughly enjoyed them).
This audiobook is worth your money. I plan to re-listen to it in a few months.
A note on this translation:
This is the famous Constance Garnett translation, which, for many years, was the gold standard and the one beloved by so many great writers such as Faulkner and Hemmingway. There are several recent translations, most of which I've read. This and all translations are very good. I wish there were audiobook versions of the recent translations, but I understand that Audible and other recording companies probably can't afford to pay the translators so they use this and other old translations whose copyrights have expired. This is another reason why this narrator has done such an admirable job. Her performance makes this version, which was written in 1901, sound relevant and fresh.
"Not to be rushed but to be savored"
This is not the dull endless drama I read in college. Maggie Gyllenhaal brings every word to life. Tolstoy in spite my youthful opinion many years ago, created characters that are exciting, brilliant, often frustrating, selfish, funny and in many ways just like our own family members. I didn't want it to be over and I know I will listen to this again. Right now I wish I could talk to other readers to share all the deep thoughts and feelings this book awakens.
"Struggles of life"
This is the story of human struggle to understand love and hate, good and evil, doubt and fear, responsibilities and consequences, and mans very existence while living through the pains of living. Tolstoy is a master story teller and has an understanding of the inner thoughts of men and women. Excellent.
"Fabulous Performance by Gyllenhaal "
My pleasure in listening to Maggie Gyllenhaal's narration was so great that I posted a review just a few hours into the book. My joy only increased as I neared the conclusion. Much has been written over many years about Tolstoy's book, so I won't mention it here except to say that the tedious story is brought to vivid and abundant life by Gyllenhaal. Well done.
The voice of the actress is full of emotion but subdued,just like Tolstoy's prose. Beautiful production!!!
"Extraordinary Book! A "must read""
I have heard about this classic book for many years, but now I know for myself what an extraordinary writer Tolstoy was. The story is about more than just Anna Karenina's complex relationships and life, but about the lives of other central characters that you will soon care about and grow to love.
"Maggie Gyllenhaal was Outstanding!"
Beautiful Narration of a deep, melancholy story. So much emotion, so much pain, so human.
"Maggie Gyllenhaal is superb."
I listened to this book at every opportunity I could find and was completely enchanted by not only the excellent story, but by Ms. Gyllenhaal's simply beautiful, flawless and careful reading. I felt that by her skill the book became a completely fulfilled work of art. I wish she would read books for me for the rest of her life...
"serious bookclub reading"
I loved this book once the focus shifted from Anna and her chronic wow is me. In part my interest was intense because the questions Tolstoy asked of most of his characters were serious, thoughtful ones. I got tired of Anna and more and more taken with the others, particularly Levin
This is a great recording of the Constance Garnett translation of the text. The narrator does a fine job with pronunciation of names and foreign phrases.
I was really hoping for a riveting listen after reading audibles hype of this performance by Maggie Gyllenhall.
I fancied listening to another classic after becoming bored with crime and thriller reads that all began to sound the same.
My last classic listen was The Woman in White which I thoroughly enjoyed and had high hopes for the praise given to Gyllenhalls interpretation of this classic novel.
I d love to say I made it past chapter 12 but for me it just turned into one long sentence. It was read but not with any gusto or giving any difference to the characters. I found it a woefully dull rendition and returned it.
The OCD in me made me finish this even though it was nearly 40 hours. Maggie is cool and I like her so much I picked this book but even she can not make pages and pages on farming methods interesting and her French pronunciation is jarring.
"Anna Karenina meets Dalas"
Better translation from the original in English rather than American english. you just don't get the sense of aristocracy without an upper class accent !
Just started the Silk Road.
See comments above
Yes , I was able to turn it off.
Dissapointed, I had been looking forward to listening to this book, but after thirty chaptors it still hadn't improved so turned it off!
"the narrator misses instructio on French an German"
she really misses the german and french rightfully. it mess the whole thing disgracefully unpleasant.
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