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Hardcover What Happened to Anna K. Book

ISBN: 1416558934

ISBN13: 9781416558934

What Happened to Anna K.

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

"Literate and fun, What Happened to Anna K. is an uncommonly ambitious book and one of the year's most amusing reads" (People, People Pick, 4 out of 4 stars). Now in paperback, this modern-day... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ANNA K is a great first novel. Highly recommended!

Although it has been years since I read ANNA KARENINA, I remember much of the story and was impressed at a male Tolstoy's understanding of a woman's inner mind. I was happy to read Reyn's more modern version, WHAT HAPPENED TO ANNA K., to see how an up-to-date Anna might be portrayed. I loved Reyn's prose--what an extraordinary first novel. Also, by placing Anna in a Russian Jewish community in Rego Park, New York, Reyn was able to modernize the re-telling of this story while still presenting Anna with societal constraints. Anna's community was conservative and still had old fashioned expectations of its women. It appears that Anna is really quite vacuous. In order to know what one wants, one has to have an inner core; something it seems Anna lacked. She's out of synch with her surroundings and has unrealistic expectations. For instance, she sought a relationship with someone who could finish her sentences for her and based her expectations of a mate on fictional characters. After leaving her husband she thought about how she never asked him about his interests. She loves her son abstractly. Her yearning for him was on the same level as her yearning for a soul-mate, more subliminal than real perhaps? An inability to make realistic choices is obvious by the time she's questioning David's devotion to her--rather than concentrate on her future, perhaps without David, she's thinking about taking Russian lessons! The most telling clue to Anna's personality can be found after she sneaks and reads the now rubber banded and turning yellow manuscript David wrote, using Anna as the lead female character. Anna thought the book was excellent; she enjoyed the plot and appreciated all his characters except one. The lead character. The lead character, the one he based on her, was flawed. Reyn did an excellent job of projecting Anna's personality as well as Lev's who is the male counterpart to Anna in the book. He too is a little out of synch with the community and relates to French movies better than to most women he dates. In contrast to Anna's inability to do so, when given the choice Lev faces reality and chooses to stay in "real life" with his wife and son. Anna couldn't face her choices, none seemed suited to her according to her way of thinking; hence, the ending was to be expected. It isn't necessary to read ANNA KARENINA to enjoy this book. It stands alone and I highly recommend it. My only complaint, and it's a mere quibble, is that a glossary would have been helpful for those who were not familiar with Russian words/phrases used in the book.

Smooooth as Butter

After reading some of the reviews of this book, I decided to take a different route with my review. I guess the plot and basic summary of this book have been made very clear, so there's no need for me to restate that the protagonist, Anna, is an unhappy 37 year old woman who is unsatisfied in her marriage and looks to another man to help her fulfill the insatiable desires that even Anna herself can't seem to pinpoint. Instead, I will mention the author's smooth writing style and attention to detail. The author allows the reader to crawl inside Anna's head and get a thorough understanding of exactly what Anna is thinking. Some of Anna's thoughts are irrational and senseless, but it's exciting to see that thought process in action. The author also allows the reader to live within the Russian-Jewish immigrant community and become a part of this "family" for a little while. As the granddaughter of Russian-Jewish immigrants, I really loved this aspect of the story. Words and ideas just flow into each other, making this book an absolute pleasure to read. Aside from the similarities to the original Anna Karenina, Irina Reyn's story is worthy in its own right and deserves a special place among modern Russian literature. There is one thing I feel I need to note, and that is the Russian naming system. I lent this book to a friend of mine and, although she also loved it, she was a little bit confused about some of the various derivitives of the Russian names. I guess I never thought twice about it since I understand how the naming system works in Russia, but I can see how someone might get confused if they don't understand why the protagonist is Anna Roitman on one page and Anna Borisovna on the next, or why Alex is sometimes called Sasha. This does not make the story difficult to understand at all, but it may make the reader scratch her head and go, "huh?" This is a wonderful book! I feel real empathy toward Anna, possibly because I see pieces of myself in her. Every character in this story is well rounded and the plot moves in a smooth, fluid manner. The language and cultural references are rich, and after reading what the author wrote about the feelings and emotions of the Russian immigrant, and her comments about the Russian soul, I can't help but think that parts of this story might be a bit autobiographical in nature. To me, that just makes it all the better. This book is a treasure to me and it will occupy a space on my shelf next to the original Anna Karenina. I don't believe Tolstoy would mind.

Haunting and Good

It's been a half dozen years, maybe more since I've read Anna Karenina. It was about a bazillion pages long and every one of them grabbed you. That's the way I remember it, so I was looking forward to this book. I must confess, I didn't know just what to expect as I'd read none of the reviews. I wanted to tackle it without a clue and I'm glad I did. The original story came flooding back as I paged through Ms. Reyn's story. It's updated, much shorter and very good. Irina Reyn takes her readers right into the heart of the modern Russian-Jewish immigrant community which was a perfect setting for this story. Anna Roitman goes from Queens College to a job with a Manhattan publisher. She marries Alex K. a man twenty years older than her and he sets her up in the Upper East Side, treating her like a princess. Now Anna is Anna K, but after a short while Anna realizes that Alex's boorish tastes are a poor substitute for love. She's not happy. Anna finds refuge in David Zuckerman, her cousin's ex-beau. David is a professor at Queen's College, is writing a novel and takes an interest in Anna. Not satisfied, Anna tries, and almost succeeds, in seducing Lev, her cousin's husband. So you can see this story, though much shorter, does follow the original. Anna becomes a modern day slut racked with depression. Life isn't all about her as she believes it is. This is a good book and you can read and enjoy it without ever having read Mr. Tolstoy's tome. Reyn puts you right into the story, makes you care about the characters, though at times I wanted to scream at Anna, who has a knack for making the wrongs choices, but then again, I've made a wrong choice or two in my lifetime as well. I handled it better than Anna does, but the story's not about me. It did haunt me, however, after I finished. I just couldn't get it out of my mind.


Impressive debut novel! Taking inspiration from Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, Irina Reyn brings Anna's character into the 21st century. In Reyn's imagination, Anna is a Russian-Jewish immigrant living in New York. In a comfortable marriage to an older man, Anna feels restless and unfulfilled, and begins a reckless affair with her cousin Katya's boyfriend. I loved absolutely everything about this novel - from the mesmerizing descriptions, to novel's tragic sense of humor and the hopeless characters. Being a Russian immigrant myself, and having dated Bukharian men, I constantly found myself thinking, "Yes! This is exactly how things work!" while reading the book. Reyn's chapter on the "Great Russian Soul" was priceless; her take on the Jewish-Russian immigrants in NYC and the Bukharian community was dead-on. This is not a happy-ending novel; the characters can be thought of as hopeless, self-centered, and to have no redeeming qualities. However, that was part of the novel's appeal. I've found that there are few books that stay away from the cliche everything-works-out endings, and Reyn was definitely not afraid to take that chance. A stellar debut on all counts!

A mesmerizing reimagining of a favorite classic

It's rather audacious to take on a long time favorite novel: in this case, Anna Karenina. Just a few months ago, Netherland debuted -- a retelling of The Great Gatsby -- and now, debut author Irina Reyn retells the Tolstoy classic. It helps to have read Anna Karenina, although even those who haven't should enjoy this novel. Those who HAVE, however, will be rewarded with the choices Reyn has made throughout. Anna K is a Bukarian-Jewish immigrant who is esconced in the tight-knit Rego Park community of Queens; she allows herself to be seduced into a marriage with the much older Mr. K, who woos her with promises of an Upper Eastside "shop 'til you drop" lifestyle. Unlike the conflicted original Anna, caught in an era where women could not go far, THIS Anna is dreamy and shallow, a woman who would much rather live in the "page" -- the fantasy -- than in real life. The original Anna's downfall, Vronsky, the dashing soldier of the original has been recast into David, a bespeckled would-be author who is attracted to conflict rather than reality. And Levin and Kitty become Lev and Katia, two seekers of the American Dream, Rego Park style. The novel is filled with humorous moments along with its pathos, and offers its own revelations of the immigrant aspirations, the desire to fit in, the search for a perfect love in an increasingly shallow age. For a new author, Reyn writes with an unusual confidence and flair. Even though any reader of Anna Karenina knows what's coming down the track, Reyn creates a feeling of suspense in the escalating downfall. I can't wait to see what she does next!
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