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Anna Karenina Audiobook

Anna Karenina

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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, September 2016 - July 2016 - Something magical happens when a great performer narrates something he or she truly loves, as is the case with Maggie Gyllenhaal, who told us before recording that Anna Karenina is one of her all-time favorite novels. (It also happens to be a huge favorite of pretty much the entire world, being named the "greatest book ever written" in a recent poll of leading contemporary authors, as well as a personal favorite of Nabokov and Faulkner.) However, despite my love of the classics, I hadn't tackled this one until picking up Gyllenhaal's marvelous rendition, and now I can't imagine experiencing it any other way. She conveys the pulse-racing breathlessness of consuming love and the sighing breathiness of a bored aristocracy with equal precision, and she untangles Russian names that my reader's eye might have struggled to articulate. She takes great care with this great work, delivering one of the best performances I've ever heard. —Emily, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

Winner: Audible's Best of 2016 - Classic

"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.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (61 )
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4.5 (58 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Brookethechicken 11/10/2016 Member Since 2016
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    "The best way to experience Anna Karenina"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jodie Baker 29/09/2016
    Jodie Baker 29/09/2016 Member Since 2015
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    "Long but worth it"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ruth C Fogarty 21/09/2016
    Ruth C Fogarty 21/09/2016
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    "Stunning and faultless reading of this classic"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    tom 23/08/2017
    tom 23/08/2017 Member Since 2015
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    "Russia with love"

    i tried reading this story in high school and didn't make it very far, the second time around it had something for me that i couldn't see before. the insights into different ways and representations of love are beautiful and descriptive and the philosophical tangents are intriguing and engaging.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Claire Ritchie 07/08/2017
    Claire Ritchie 07/08/2017 Member Since 2017
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    "Neverending non-story!"

    If I wanted opinions on tsarist Russian agrarian policy I would have got a book on that... Struggled to finish.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tristan 02/06/2017
    Tristan 02/06/2017 Member Since 2016
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    "Maggie Gyllenhaal does one of the best novels of all time justice"

    I've got to admit, I was skeptical as to how well any single voice actor could capture the range of emotions and characteristics that Tolstoy weaves into his characters - especially considering how the focalisation changes from male to female perspectives so rapidly. But Gyllenhaal delivers a performance for the male and female characters that is natural, seemingly effortless, and utterly immersion-retaining. If you have any apprehensions as to the quality of the narrator that would prevent you from getting this version of Anna Karenina, cast them aside and fall headlong into the passion and drama of the highest Russian aristocratic circles

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    18/05/2017
    18/05/2017
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    "Long but so insightful and relevant"

    A really well read classic! So insightful into the workings of a variety of human minds. Regards relevant despite having been written so long ago. Excellent!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    04/05/2017
    04/05/2017
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    "Boring"

    Narrators voice sent me to sleep , story was too hard to follow , boring boring boring

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela 28/10/2016
    Pamela 28/10/2016 Member Since 2016
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    "Beautiful"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Sonia 30/07/2016
    Sonia 30/07/2016 Member Since 2016
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    "most enjoyable "

    a very long story but well read . I did get a bit mixed up with the characters at times.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • J. Stirling
    Connecticut
    2/08/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    23 of 23 people found this review helpful
  • Lawrence
    Monroeville, PA, United States
    22/07/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    63 of 68 people found this review helpful
  • Stevon
    Tempe, AZ, United States
    16/01/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "excellent classic, the only way to describe it"

    First time author for me. If you are like me, every once in a while it's a good change of pace to take on a long classic. You have to be in the right frame of mind but something clicks about a story and you go for it. For me, in this instance, it was narrator Maggie Gyllenhaal the actress. And, she did a great job. But in researching the story while listening I learned that this being a classic, Audible has seven full length versions of this audiobook, all with different narrators. How do you know which one to listen to? There are even two Russian version, one Italian, one Spanish plus abridged versions. I guess this is what happens when a book is a true classic.

    At times it seemed that the title of the book is a misnomer. Yes, the doomed love story of Anna is central to the story but there is much more to it. There is the farmer Levin who is questioning his faith the entire story, trying to decide if he's a Believer or Unbeliever. But it's also a time piece of Russian history. Tolstoy wrote this in the 1870's and writes about many facets of Russian life at the time. The Serfs of Russia, most of the people, had been freed from serfdom which was basically slavery. They were now called peasants and had to be paid a wage for their work. Under serfdom Russian agriculture had been a profitable venture for the elite of Russian but now with freedom productivity had gone down and profitability was out the window. The term communism was already being used so the coming revolution wasn't something that dropped onto Russia out of the sky. There was much discussion on the equitable distribution of all things for the good of the people. In many ways these issues still exist in current day Russia.

    Tolstoy himself was born into the aristocracy of Russia. Since he touched on so many subjects you had to wonder if he wasn't one of those questioning the status quo. He apparently embraced religion and spirituality later in life and it seemed he may have been espousing his questions and views on the subject a he devotes quite a bit of the story to this topic.

    All in all, this is a great classic. When the time is right take the challenge and good luck on deciding which narrator to listen to. I don't know that I have a second listening in me just to try out a second narrator. But it is interesting to see how different narrators can put a different perspective on a story.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    12/08/16
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Really stunning"

    The voice of the actress is full of emotion but subdued,just like Tolstoy's prose. Beautiful production!!!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • dskalzzz
    Winston-Salem, NC USA
    10/08/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Maggie Gyllenhaal was Outstanding!"

    Beautiful Narration of a deep, melancholy story. So much emotion, so much pain, so human.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • KellysHero718
    Farmington MO
    27/07/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • Lisa
    27/07/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Mary Herold
    1/08/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Johan Sanneblad
    9/07/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Worst performance I have heard yet"

    I have been listening to dozens of Audible books for years now, and this might be the worst performance I have heard yet. Maggie Gyllenhaal is in my opinion destroying the entire book.

    In the Youtube video posted on the book's Audible page she describes the recording as "I wanted to have a light touch on the way I played the different characters, because the way that somebody reading the book is imagining these people with their own voices, their own mind, is really part of the experience".

    The problem is that THIS IS NOT HOW AUDIO BOOKS WORK. The result is utterly horrible. There are almost no emotions expressed by Maggie in her voice, there are few and short pauses, no whispers, no shouts and no anger in her voice where it should be. It's the most boring, tiredsome and utterly painful voice I have ever listened to. It's like listening to someone describing a cooking recipe.

    I managed 6 hours in this book and was ready to give up when I decided to try the Audible recording by DAVID HOROVITCH instead.

    It is SO MUCH BETTER! When David speaks there is emotion in his voice, you can feel the passion, anger and hopefulness of the characters in a way that Maggie could not even come close to accomplish. When Wronsky and Anna meets his voice adds an extra dimension to the experience, like any good actor adds to a theatrical role.

    So, for anyone wanting to listen to this great book - stay far away from this recording and get the one from 2008 with David Horovitch instead!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Margaret
    Santa Rosa, California, United States
    6/08/16
    Overall
    "Can't agree about Gyllenhaal"

    Wow! I hate to argue with sincere and informative reviews. I've always enjoyed Maggie Gyllenhaal as an actor and bought this book the day it was available. I expected and wanted to love it! And yet, partly because of the terribly outdated translation (1910), but mostly because of Gyllenhaal's pronunciation and diction, I just couldn't. Likely I didn't notice this in her acting since I've only seen her play a modern American and, let's face it, we don't speak very well. But for Tolstoy? No.

    As a *performance*, only in terms of acting a character or emotion, Gyllenhaal's was good. She used variety and tone that gave distinctive life to characters and scenes very well (by no means consistently, though). That wasn't the problem. However, I wondered what the producer was thinking when s/he let her mispronounce words like "insuperable" and "appurtenances". Gyllenhaal didn't use the posh but universal (for that class and time) British and European Ma-MA and Pa-PA, but rather the Americanisms "Momma" and "Poppa" instead. In fact, Gyllenhaal was allowed to use a sloppy accent throughout: wanna, gunna, whaddaya, and so on.

    Then there was her hard-to-describe treatment of certain syllables--I'm no linguist, but I'm sure there's a word for it--a swallowing of letters that ought to be distinct. This is an awful example, but I didn't take notes and can't think of a better one right now: not "EN-glish", with emphasis on the first syllable, but the "g" distinctly pronounced to start the second; but rather "Eng-LISH", without really emphasizing either syllable and almost dropping the "g". Almost "ehh-lish" with something like a glottal stop where the "ng" should be. Since I can't think of a better example, I suppose there can't have been much of this, but it was certainly distracting and annoying when it did happen.

    Finally! This is Gyllenhaal's constant and very marked substitution of "d" for "t" in the middle of words: beaudy, udderly, fiddingly, etc. (And Tolstoy uses "utterly" a *lot*.) Worst of all, though, distracting to the point of hilarity, is giving the "young princess" Cherbetskaya a new nickname: '"Kiddy," he said tenderly...' !

    Yes, over and over again, in what are meant to be some of the most moving and heartfelt passages of the book in particular, it's not "Kitty" but Kiddy, Kiddy, Kiddy! And very noticeably at that. Surprising at first ("Surely I've misheard?"--this before I'd noticed the substitution everywhere), then hilarious, then tiresome, and finally just horribly distracting.

    I didn't *look* for these examples, you see. At first, I was determined to ignore them. I'd take off my earbuds or turn off the player (the problems are more noticeable with earbuds, but that's how I have to listen at night), and when I started to listen again it would be long enough that I'd have forgotten, at first. Not for long! Then I'd tell myself not to notice, let alone listen for, the "issues". That didn't work either, since the problem is so very distracting.

    Every audiobook listener knows what that's like: you're happily in the middle of a wonderful experience, perhaps in another time and place, and suddenly, thwoosh! You're jerked away from the book, *distracted* from that marvellous submersion into elsewhere, other-than. It's the worst that can happen.

    And that's how it was with Maggie Gyllenhaal and me. She was distracting. She ruined the mood. Sometimes I *could* forget: in the last chapters; during some of Anna's struggles with her husband. But suddenly, without warning, would come a Kiddy, or a "whaddawe gunna do", and the precious mood was destroyed. Again.

    I can overlook this a time or two when rating an audiobook. I'm not insistent on a British accent for the European classics. I prefer an American accent to a phony British one.; I expected Gyllenhaal to speak American English. I also expected her not to mispronounce words which, if not exactly common, aren't arcana, either. They can be sounded out a time or two, if they are unfamiliar. There I blame the producer, though. These folks are paid to catch mispronunciations and to correct them. That could've been done with the dropped or slid-together letters as well. It would've been difficult to correct Gyllenhaal's entire accent, however; once she was hired, I suppose the "whaddaya"s and so forth had to stay... as well as the "beaudy"s And "udderly"s.

    But Kiddy! True, drawing Gyllenhaal's attention to that alone would've alerted her to all the substitutions of "d" for "t" and possibly made her self-conscious. But she was so motivated, according to the comments she wrote for Audible! She truly seems to have wanted to do a good job--and she did!--as far as the *acting* goes.

    Sadly, that's not enough--neither doing fine work acting while sounding like a gum-chewing waitress of the worst caricature in first-quarter drama, nor wanting to do a great job with your favorite book while ignoring everything but the acting. Don't drama schools teach diction and accents any more? I'm sure they do, so did Gyllenhaal go? I've never considered that important. I may rethink my position.

    Ah well: bring on the "not helpful"s or just ignore me. I almost never write good reviews because when I love a book I can't explain why, so most of my (couple of book) reviews are negative, but for trivial reasons. Not this time! I expected so much, and to be derailed by such a seemingly little thing.

    48 of 65 people found this review helpful
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  • L. russell
    uk
    30/07/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "a dissapointment"

    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.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Ruth
    1/07/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fantastic!"

    This is a brilliant reading of a classic exploration of human nature, totally absorbing and engaging

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • S. Perry
    England
    22/04/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A book for reading"

    After listening to a few books, I realise that there are books that a great to listen to and books that are better to read (another example of one not to listen to Mrs Dalloway) because the language is so dense. Ci think this is one of those. I struggled to remember who the different names belonged to, and to keep attention to the plot. Tolstoy is an accomplished writer for sure, but I was thinking get to the point.

    I don't think Maggie Gyllenhaal was the right reader, I found her a little monotonous and failed to keep my attention.
    There was a lot I enjoyed about the book, but I did feel that Anna Karenina needed to get a grip and lacked empathy for her as a character at times.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • k
    8/04/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Brilliant narration"

    No other voice would have done justice to this Magnificent piece. Maggie Gyllenhaal enriches every segment and every character with a unique voice, which keeps you glued to the narrative. Felt every bit of emotion and empathy with each of the brilliant characters. Tolstoy has captured the political, moral, gender aspects of the Russian society, prevalent at his time and that are still very much relevant. Highly recommend to embark upon this journey of the author!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • MVG
    London
    12/11/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "So long"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Richard Austin
    Suffolk,England
    30/08/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Anna Karenina meets Dalas"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    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 !


    What will your next listen be?

    Just started the Silk Road.


    How could the performance have been better?

    See comments above


    You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Yes , I was able to turn it off.


    Any additional comments?

    Dissapointed, I had been looking forward to listening to this book, but after thirty chaptors it still hadn't improved so turned it off!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Anonymous
    25/05/17
    Overall
    "Anna Katenina"

    Got a bit lost with some of this. Could have done with knowing a bit about the Russian revolution before listening.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Andrea Capera
    7/08/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "the narrator misses instructio on French an German"

    she really misses the german and french rightfully. it mess the whole thing disgracefully unpleasant.

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful

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