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Am I the only one who became stupefied just a few chapters into Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina?  The story has at least 30 important characters, plus a plethora of non-essential characters.  It’s over 800 pages in length and was originally published in serial installments from 1873 to 1877.

Below is the cover page of the first volume of Anna Karenina.

Anna Karenina











old AnnaI was told by someone who recently read Who Is to Blame, “Being a woman in peasant Russia – Ugh!”

I couldn’t agree more. In order to be a female Russian peasant who’s content with her life, you’d have to:
- adore your in-laws since you share a one-room hut with all 12 of them
- not take offense at wife-beating, a time-honored tradition
- not mind that your voice is unheard at home or in your village
- find it romantic to share your bed-of-straw with a guy who works in the fields all day and bathes every 2 weeks during the summer and monthly (at best) during the winter
- delight in continuously being either pregnant or nursing
- relish cooking. And pickling. And baking bread. And more bread. And slaughtering and plucking a chicken.
- appreciate that an evening working the spinning wheel provides a relaxing way to end the day
- be an early riser so you can stoke the stove, shovel snow for a path to the barn, milk the cow, gather the eggs,breastfeed your infant, and get the breakfast kasha bubbling before you start your workday.

Oh, and one last thing - - rise above feelings of rejection when, following Hubby’s death, your in-laws exercise their right to send you back to your birth family.