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All happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Anna Karenina is a novel of unparalleled richness and complexity, set against the backdrop of Russian high society. Tolstoy charts the course of the doomed love affair between Anna, a beautiful married woman, and Count Vronsky, a wealthy army officer who pursues Anna after becoming infatuated with her at a ball. Although she initially resists his charms Anna eventually succumbs, falling passionately in love and setting in motion a chain of events that lead to her downfall. In this extraordinary novel Tolstoy seamlessly weaves together the lives of dozens of characters, while evoking a love so strong that those who experience it are prepared to die for it.
Leo Tolstoy was born in central Russia on 9 September 1828. In 1852 he published his first work, the autobiographical Childhood. He served in the army during the Crimean War and his Sevastopol Sketches (1855-6) are based on his experiences. His two most popular masterpieces are War and Peace (1864-69) and Anna Karenina (1875-8). He died in 1910.