1. Talk about your initial perceptions of Leo Tolstoy
as a writer and his sweeping novel Anna Karenina
. What frightens or excites you about reading it?
2. Talk about the first sentence of the novel. "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Do you agree with its assertion?
3. Early in Part One, we meet the Oblonsky family in the middle of a very tumultuous situation: Stiva has admitted to his wife Dolly that he has had an affair after she found a letter revealing his secret. What are your first impressions of Stiva, Dolly and their household?
4. In Chapter V, we are given background into Stiva's character—he is described as "liked by all who knew him." Does he seem likable to you? Why or why not?
5. Talk about your first impressions of Levin and your thoughts on his friendship with Stiva.
6. When we meet Kitty, she is tangled in an interesting web of courtship with two men. Do you get the sense that Kitty will make a good decision for herself? Do you feel she acts "rightly" towards Levin? What does the author say that's interesting about each of the men and Kitty's feelings about them?
7. Talk about the family traditions discussed in the first part of Anna Karenina
. Look carefully through the text and pick out at least five that seem to be particular to this time and culture.
8. Do you feel Anna's relationship with her brother and his wife Dolly is a good one? Discuss this dynamic and how you think it may play out as the book progresses.
9. Talk about the ball and the way Tolstoy writes about the interactions between Kitty and Vronsky, and Anna and Vronsky.
10. What do you learn about Anna's family life at the end of Part One that seems significant? How is that reinforced by the details the author chooses to show you about her marriage and home?
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