Corrie Street Mar. 15/15

Reading Romance

Anna Karenina is one of the best romance novels ever written. Yes, it is long. But the certainly-very-substantial Tolstoy romance novelonly explanation I can think of for the size of the tome Ken gave Audrey is that it’s a large print edition.

If the writers pursue this, I hope we see Audrey getting gripped by the story. Maybe she’ll even call in sick so she can stay home and read it. It is a story about love, loss, societal expectations and family dynamics. All these things are familiar to Audrey from her own life and, presumably, from reading other novels.

i-give-to-youFun is being poked at Ken in this. His tendency to always want to ‘improve’ people. In this instance, seeing Audrey with a romance novel in her hand brings it about.

Emily seems to be the only person aside from Ken who has heard of Anna Karenina. She too thinks that reading it is an entirely reasonable, indeed enjoyable, thing to do. And nobody the-first-chapterpays much mind to Emily or her opinions. Maria thinks the whole idea is entirely mad and a huge joke. That is no big surprise.

But Audrey shares Maria’s opinion and her dismissal of “the classics.” Perhaps Ken might have better introduced the book in terms comparable to ‘Tender Hearts Run Free,’ the romance Audrey was reading. The core of Anna Karenina is a love affair between two people drawn inexorably to each other, just as in all Harlequins. And then it’s a whole lot more.

With the dysfunctional mess that is Audrey’s family, I am surprised that the opening first-sentenceline of the novel did not grab her attention: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Even if she, like most people, wants to think the best of her offspring, she cannot and does not deny their problems and turmoil. That first line, you’d think, would give her a clue that there might be something of interest to her in there.

The writers may be making a joke about Ken’s pretentiousness, but to me it’s Audrey what-am-i-going-to-dowho is being made to look foolish. And that is unfair to Audrey. Had Ken handed the novel to Maria, ok, both of them would look the fool (pearls before swine). Audrey is an intelligent woman who might play the ditz but isn’t one. So I’m not sure what the point of this small plot line actually is. It couldn’t really be the cheap shot at literature and education that it looks like.

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