This classic tale of love and passion is considered as a 'true story' and indeed a masterpiece of the great Russian novelist .
Set in the glamorous world of aristocracy of the later 19th century Russia, the novel traces the course of love and downfall of the married woman Anna. In a broader sense, it is a thesis on the human relationships.
Happy families are alike; but an unhappy family is unhappy in its own fasion-these opening lines of the novel form the quintessence of its theme.
Anna, the wife of a respectable high class Karenin,finds herself in the mire of love when she encounters the dashing Count Vronsky.
She gives in to her destructive emotions as she pursues her 'real love' in Vronsky, betrays her husband, but is finally overcome by doubt and fear of loss of Vronsky's real love for her and kills herself. Parallel to hers is the story of Levin the farmer, who is a semi-autobiographical portrayal of Tolstoy himself.
Levin being in a rural society advocates the valuable role of rural society in preserving family bondage.
Along the way, the novel touches upon themes of hypocrisy, adultery, infidelity and jealousy that can prove disastrous in a marriage.