A Review of What Happened to Anna K.

Now that we’ve determined what happened to Drew Brees’ face, we can move on to What Happened to Anna K.

The novel is a retelling of the classic Anna Karenina. However, the Anna K. in this story is a Russian-Jewish immigrant who marries an older man and lives a comfortably rich life in New York. Despite her good fortune, she yearns for more – more romance, more intellectual conversation, a more passionate existence. When she meets her cousin Katia’s boyfriend David, Anna thinks she has found the key to this better life and the two embark on a scandalous affair.

Meanwhile, Lev, a Bukharian-Jewish pharmacist who loves movies, has been pining for Katia since he was a teenager. When he finally gets her, though, he wonders whether his life is all he imagined it would be.

Much like the original, What Happened to Anna K. confronts questions of identity, family, fidelity and happiness.

For some reason the novel just didn’t quite capture my attention. I liked it just fine and read it pretty quickly, but it didn’t pull me like some of the others. I could put it down without too much trouble, which I can’t do so easily with a really riveting book. Perhaps this is because I have read Anna Karenina so from the beginning I had a pretty good idea of where all of the plotlines were heading. It also doesn’t help that most of the characters aren’t particularly likable. They are well-drawn and complex, but likable? Not exactly.

Still, Irina Reyn’s writing is beautiful and the story moves along smoothly. And the emotions come through so strongly. Regret, desperation, and fear are each portrayed so clearly. She has done Leo Tolstoy’s version justice in this modern update.

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