I recently saw a movie trailer announcing the Nov 2012 release of Anna Karenina staring Keira Knightley and Jude Law. This prompted me to read Tolstoy's novel which was published in 1877; a 1,325 page tome written in long sentence structure reflecting the writing method of the time. I was daunted by the task before me that began about 10 days ago...not only the long, descriptive sentences, but the common names of the characters and the events of the day which Tolstoy was covering.
In my own journey as an author I have learned that writer's embed points and story lines they are trying to communicate to the readers. The Tsar issued an order freeing the serfs and ending the feudal system in Russia in 1861. Tolstoy was writing about, among many subplots, the changing cultural standing of the rich and powerful with the new found freedom of peasants and the challenges this brought to landowners in managing and operating their farms, of divorce laws, of relationships, and most of all, love and forgiveness.
I am on page 715. The novel is enlightening in contrasting the long, descriptive writing of Tolstoy and the many points of view held within his chapters, to the shorter writing style pioneered by Hemingway and favored by more modern writers. I am learning a great deal.