In which the After School Park Games Club decides to read a Big Russian Book
Celina
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The Club has decided to participate in our local Summer Big Book program. This year's book is Anna Karenina.

The Club is not sure what we are getting into, as last time we read a work of Russian Literature it was Lolita.
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1. Board Game: Acquire [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:210]
Celina
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The Club repaired to the library, not sure as to how the passing out of books would roll out.

There were copies waiting for us, as well as e-readers preloaded with the book should we wish to check one out.

There were even bags for us that said "I like Big Books and I cannot lie" which to be honest were a draw for us. The Club likes a good tote bag. We had been told there would be a button, but we did not get one. Or two.

This is indeed a big book. It has 923 pages, not counting the intro, nor the reading guide at the end.

We got our copies, went to a brief workshop on "how to blog", and decided to go get a few dice to go with the copy of Rolling Japan Jyoti is working on.

Our dice acquisition went well, and on the way back there was a statue of John Lennon & Yoko Ono in bed.

All in all, a satisfying outing.
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2. RPG Item: You Gotta Have Character [Average Rating:8.50 Unranked]
Celina
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I must say, I love the characters in this book! Every one of them is sympathetic.

The fact that the chapters are so short is very rewarding. I'm 21 chapters in!

 
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Celina
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Surly communist brother appears! Or he might just be unstable. I absolutely LOVED this part.
 
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4. Board Game: Romance of the Nine Empires [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:8013]
John DeHart
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Chapter Nine for me is the "The Bishop's Wife" scene.
More after Jyoti gets there. See if she recognizes it.

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5. Board Game: Kiss & Cry: Women's Figure Skating Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Jyoti P
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Saint Louis
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It was more like this with no kissing. Only poor sad, confused Levin trying to distract himself with his skating. He needs to get a grip. He's like some teen at the mall trying to figure out if the cashier at the hot dog place really loves him. Someone really needs to tell him "she's just not into you." There's no more sisters left after this one so I'll be curious what he does after this. I am assuming of course that Kitty doesn't suddenly change her mind.
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6. Board Game: Russian Rails [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:2756]
Celina
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I'm just going to say that the whole train trip was fabulous.

Afterward, my current favorite line from the book:"I'm beginning to be weary of fruitlessly championing the truth, and sometimes I'm quite unhinged by it."

I feel like there are a lot of teenagers in this book masquerading as grown ups.

Edit: I have not yet played this game. Would I like it?
 
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7. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:284] [Average Rating:7.22 Unranked]
Jyoti P
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Saint Louis
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Levin just arrived back at his home. I love the daydream he has about how his wife would be. I'm having a hard time seeing Kitty fitting into this daydream being happy about cows.
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8. Board Game: Belle of the Ball [Average Rating:6.11 Overall Rank:4141]
John DeHart
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St. Louis
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Poor Kitty. She was so ready for a grand ball
where her future would be cemented with Vronsky.
And then...
THUD.

I feel like the stage is almost set for the real grand drama to begin.
The characters are assembled. (Should check the reader's guide to
see if we have met all the biggies.)

Anna: Hmm. We don't quite know here yet. (remember I'm behind you two)
But from the moment she stepped off the train she was trouble.
Vronsky: bends whichever way the warm breeze blows him without a
care for what it means for others.
Kitty: Poor kitty. Can't blame her much. All the public signs said
that Vronsky was her man. She is young and at least acts her age.
Levin: Honorable? so far, I think. A lot of self analysis.
Stepan: Just wants life to be smooth, easy and enjoyable.
Dolly: "Woe is me"
Nikolay: Perhaps the most interesting one of the bunch so far. A true
Russian. Life sucks. "We must have food, wine and I have a woman."


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9. Board Game: Reflection [Average Rating:5.94 Overall Rank:10818]
Celina
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Well, that escalated quickly.

I shall leave it at that.
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10. Board Game: Class Struggle [Average Rating:4.89 Overall Rank:15396]
John DeHart
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Vronsky's description of the two classes of people at the end of Part One is very telling.

"One, the lower class, vulgar, stupid, and, above all, ridiculous people,
who believe that one husband ought to live with the one wife whom he has lawfully married; that a girl should be innocent, a woman modest, and a man manly, self-controlled, and strong; that one ought to bring up one's children, earn one's bread, and pay one's debts; and various similar absurdities. This was the class of old-fashioned and ridiculous people."

"But there was another class of people, the real people. To this class they all belonged, and in it the great thing was to be elegant, generous, plucky, gay, to abandon oneself without a blush to every passion, and to laugh at everything else."

Pretty well describes his self-centered, complete disregard for everyone else's feelings and lives. Funny, I don't see anything about "honor" or "service" or "country" in his description of his class of people.

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11. Board Game: Hit Oder Shit [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Jyoti P
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Saint Louis
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Part 2 Chapter 22.

Now, it has hit the fan.
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12. Board Game: Steeple-Chase [Average Rating:2.65 Unranked]
Jyoti P
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Saint Louis
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I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon in the backyard in a camp chair reading.

All I can say is:

HEAVENS TO MURGATROYD!!! THIS WAS TRULY TRAGIC!!! and I mean for the horse.

And Tolstoy leaves me in suspense by going back to Kitty at the Hot Springs after this.
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13. Board Game: Chaos in the Old World [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:93]
John DeHart
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Finished Part 2/Chapter 32. I'm still with Kitty at the spa...

Where does one even begin...

Frou-Frou is dead. Let us mourn our friend Frou-Frou.
Ok. now back to the story.

Well, even the Tsar was displeased with the mayhem at the steeplechase.
Vronsky shows his true colors, getting cocky at the end and
making a careless mistake that costs his horse it's life but
he walks away physically unscathed. I don't think he weill
be emotionally or mentally scathed either.

Anna has come clean to her husband. Well good for her. She thinks
she has a clue about how bad this is going to be for her and her son.
I suspect it will be even worse. And he doesn't know she is with child
yet. That will not go over well.
And look who she will be relying. Vronsky. That does not bode well.

Levin was quite settled and happy at the farm. Spring had sprung
and all was looking bright for him. Then Stepan shows up and
brings Kitty back to the fore for Levin. Damn.

Kitty seems to be recovering and she has a friend, Varenka.
(Varenka btw is a russian variant of Barbara and means 'foreign woman')
She seems to be the soul that Kitty does not have.
I expect her to either disappear or end up marrying Levin...

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14. Board Game: The Farming Game [Average Rating:5.84 Overall Rank:7440]
Jyoti P
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Saint Louis
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Part 3 Chapter 29

I don't think I can handle anymore farming talk.

WARNING! SPOILERS!

Peasants, laborers, farm theory, to farm or not to farm, new farming technology, cattle yards, vegetable gardens, books on farming, other farmers, farm shares, farm, farm, farm, farm, peasant, laborer, farm. Talk talk talk farm farm farm farm.

Levin can be rather single minded.
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15. Board Game: Talk Show [Average Rating:5.58 Unranked]
Jyoti P
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Well, really it was a lecture at the library. Celina and I went. I sat quietly and faded in and out of consciousness while Celina pulled wool out of a holey sweater.

What I learned? The farming talk probably had significance, but I still don't care it was boring. The Karenin's used birth control (that was a conclusion only a scholar would come to.) I was relieved someone asked what was the tip off. If I'm a woman, I should be mad at this book, but I think I view as more like reading a very well written tabloid story and I'm not sure I care about whether Tolstoy had some kind of Madonna/whore thing going on. I mean yeah it's there but it's still an entertaining read and people's thoughts are so well described you can recognize people you've met.

Some lady in the group was really upset by Anna's husband, which made me think "hmmm."

I left Celina at the library waiting for her tiara to finish printing out.

Overall, I thought it was interesting but quite dry.
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16. Board Game: Happy Days [Average Rating:4.57 Overall Rank:14761]
John DeHart
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Part 3/Chapter 22:


This is what gets me about Vronsky.

Anna is miserable, weepy, desperate, just can't see
how her life is going to work out in any good way.

Vronsky? Not so much. He's just figured out that he is
in debt, his actions have cut off a chunk of his income
and he has no idea except borrowing of how he will
pay off his debts. And this is how he feels:

"I'm happy, very happy!" he said to himself.
He had often before had this sense of physical joy in his
own body, but he had never felt so fond of himself, of
his own body, as at that moment. He enjoyed the sensation
of movement in his chest as he breathed. The bright,
cold August day, which had made Anna feel so helpless, seemed
to him keenly stimulating, and refreshed his face and neck that still
tingled from the cold water.


Creepy.
He's in love with himself.
Do we think for one minute that if Anna disappeared that Vronsky
would pine for long?


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17. Board Game: Times Seven: Forgiveness [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Jyoti P
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Saint Louis
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End of Part 4.

I will say no more but I was surprised by this character.
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18. Board Game: Election [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:6252]
Jyoti P
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Saint Louis
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Levin is truly awful at politics. He comes across as totally incompetent in this part. In fact, I have to say the last year or so of his life seems a bit pathetic to me.
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19. Board Game: Finale [Average Rating:5.79 Overall Rank:8721]
Jyoti P
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Saint Louis
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I'm done and I don't know how I feel about it.
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20. Board Game: Make a Painting [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Jyoti P
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Now that we are getting ready to discuss Parts 4 and 5 at the library. I just have to say the whole Vronsky takes up painting part is my absolute favorite part of the book and I found it very funny.

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21. Board Game: Buttons [Average Rating:5.96 Overall Rank:10467]
Celina
United States
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MO
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Today The Club attends the last of the book club meetings. I have high hopes that I will laugh until I cry.

The real lure for The Club is, of course, a button. Specifically a button that says "I like big books & I can not lie". We have been promised a button at this meeting, and hope they have not run out.

Otherwise we will have read the book for naught. laugh

My feelings about the end of the book itself:

Anna is crazy. Vrosnky is over his head, & rather clueless.

I loved Kitty, how she evolved. I was completely delighted with her & Levin's responses to becoming parents.

I am still very fond of Stiva or whatever Anna's brother's name was.

The last few pages were really a slog. I know it was important to Tolstoy to get that out, but really that felt tacked on.

 
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