I was surprised, and delighted, by how much I loved this novel. I'm not sure what I was expecting (more bitter tragedy, perhaps?), but I found myself engrossed in this fascinating, warmly lit, and intricately woven tale of stately life in 18th century Russia. <br/><br/>The characters were drawn with such care and detail, their lives felt entirely real to me, and I experienced their lives and loves almost as if they were my own. Realistic, too, were the struggles they faced - and the grand and mundane questions that occupied them. <br/><br/>This is a novel that foreshadows so much of what was to come in Russia - and in the world - in the 20th century. War, revolution, struggles between the classes, the mechanisation of agriculture, faith and what it means to be good - all these ideas and are explored with a sort of timeless honesty. The conversations between Levin and Oblonsky could be transposed to a modern dinner party and would still seem fresh.