"Anna K" Is A Captivating Retelling Of Tolstoy's Classic Anna Karenina. Here's The First Chapter.

A fresh, funny, and captivating retelling of Tolstoy's classic Anna Karenina.

We're so excited to announce Jenny Lee's novel Anna K as the BuzzFeed Book Club June selection! Seventeen-year-old Anna K. seems to have it all — the perfect boyfriend, a life of opulence, and the pride of her Korean American father (among siblings weathering multiple scandals and dramas). But when she meets and quickly falls for notorious playboy Alexia "Count" Vronsky, her life is turned upside down. It's a fresh, funny, and captivating retelling of Tolstoy's classic Anna Karenina.

To celebrate, Flatiron Books is giving away 10 signed copies and 10 audiobooks to BuzzFeed Book Club members — sign up for the newsletter for more details.

The whole thing was a fucking disaster. Lolly found out her boyfriend Steven was cheating on her while she was getting his Apple Watch outfitted with a new wristband at the Hermès store on Madison Avenue. Steven didn’t even know she had his Apple Watch. Twenty minutes ago, he decided to do back-to-back SoulCycle classes, while Lolly begged off staying for the second class with him. (Her new gluten-free diet lacked the necessary carbs for her to handle doing a double sesh without passing out.)

She was telling him the truth while also needing the time and access to his Apple Watch to take it to the store for a new wristband, his present for their 18-month “screw-a-versary” which happened to be the very next day. (Lolly didn’t love commemorating their first official date with this crude moniker, but Steven called it that. Lolly went along because she loved him.) So while Steven was climbing an imaginary hill to the steady beat of Dua Lipa’s “IDGAF” at the East 83rd Street studio, Lolly was fifteen blocks south standing at the counter of Hermès.

She was deciding between the traditional double-wrap band in iconic orange leather and the more hetero choice in matte black. She was admiring the orange band on her own delicate wrist, when Steven’s Apple Watch vibrated and a tiny tit pic flashed on the screen, followed by the gray text bubble containing the letters "DTF? *eggplant emoji*"

She was admiring the orange band on her own delicate wrist, when Steven’s Apple Watch vibrated and a tiny tit pic flashed on the screen, followed by the gray text bubble containing the letters DTF? *eggplant emoji*

Lolly tapped the touch-screen to see the photo again. Confirming the worst, she froze until her fight-or-flight impulse kicked in. Lolly chose flight, forgetting to take off the new band as she ran out, and was stopped by the burly security guard who blocked the door. Lolly, never good at holding back tears, started to sob pitifully, staring down at her beloved Gucci sneakers (the ones with the glittering snakes) that Steven had bought for her this past Christmas. Unsure of what to do, the security guard placed his arms around the crying girl. She pressed her face into his poly-blend jacket and whispered, “It’s a mistake. It must be a mistake. Please let it be a goddamn mistake.”

Eventually the beautiful Japanese saleswoman decked out in head-to-toe Hermès, who had been helping Lolly before, took charge of the situation and brought her into the back room. She sat her down on a small couch and gave her a Perrier, which gave Lolly hiccups and made her start crying even harder. The whole scene was quite embarrassing for all parties involved. Kimiko, who had worked at Hermès for ten years, was no stranger to the rampant cheating of the city’s wealthiest citizens, many of whom were her clients, but there was something about witnessing this 17-year-old girl’s loss of innocence IRL that unexpectedly moved her.

Once they had gotten rid of her hiccups, Lolly asked if she should scroll through the rest of her boyfriend’s messages or not. Kimiko said in a quiet voice, “Better to find out how bad it is now when you’re not alone.” Soon both women were mesmerized by the appallingly graphic nature of Lolly’s boyfriend’s relationship with the mysterious “Brad.” Steven had used a fake name in his contacts, but there was no chance “Brad” was a guy judging from the plethora of female body parts being photographed and sent to Steven over the last several weeks. There was even one blurry up-the-skirt video that made both women wince and groan in unison.

Lolly purchased an Hermès Iris belt buckle and reversible strap in bleu saphir and bleu Brighton to thank Kimiko for her kindness and left the store 15 minutes later, Uber-ing straight to Steven’s parents’ massive four-bedroom penthouse apartment at 15 Central Park West (his parents were currently in Aspen skiing) to wait for his cheating ass. She tipped Gustavo the doorman a Benjamin not to tell Steven she was upstairs, citing a surprise gift and waving the orange Hermès shopping bag as proof. The doorman took her money, but clearly warned Steven anyway because ten minutes later her bf showed up carrying red deli roses in his still sweaty hands.

He had managed only the words, “Lolly baby, what’s wrong?” before his mother’s favorite Lalique Tourbillons amber vase whizzed past him and smashed into the marble foyer floor. He stared at his normally demure girlfriend in shock when she said, “Just tell me one thing Steven...!” her voice now building in ferocity. “When’s your screw-a-versary with Brad?!” She was now holding up his Apple Watch as digital proof. Steven stared at it and knew he was irrefutably busted.

[Listen to a clip from the Anna K audiobook.]

Steven’s momentary confusion quickly turned to sheepish shame and he activated full grovel mode. He tried to approach her, but she backed away from him. “Don’t come near me, you... you... disgusting pig! That’s right, I saw all the vile thirst trap pics that slut Brad sent you!” she screamed. At the mention of the pictures, the latest naked pic that Steven had seen on his phone after class popped into his brain and the tiniest lascivious smile flickered across his face. He was an 18-year-old boy, after all.

Unfortunately, Lolly caught Steven’s smirk.

The noise she emitted was more animal than human and she ran past him, almost knocking him over in the process. Having nowhere to run except the end of the hall, Lolly opened the door to the master bedroom and slammed the heavy door behind her. She locked the door and ran straight into Steven’s mother’s walk-in closet. She threw herself facedown on the bloodred crushed-velvet chaise at its center and began to cry harder than she had ever cried before.

She looked like a rabid raccoon... one who just found out that her boyfriend was cheating on her and was royally pissed.

Steven tried talking to Lolly through the door, but he was met only with the occasional sound of things being thrown at the door. An hour later he was in the living room watching Sports Center highlights and eating his third pepperoni Hot Pockets when he received the following text from his buddy Kaedon: Dude, did U buy ur gf a fur coat?!!! Steven paused the TV and quickly discovered he was already unfriended and blocked across all Lolly’s social media accounts. (So much for their 453-day Snap Streak!) He texted Kaedon back: screenshot?

Seconds later he received a selfie of a possibly naked Lolly wearing one of his mother’s fur coats. Lolly, being much tinier than his mother, looked ridiculous in the chevron-quilted Russian sable, her eyes wild and ringed with mascara. She looked like a rabid raccoon... one who just found out that her boyfriend was cheating on her and was royally pissed. He shook his head and knew the situation was now far beyond his skills to rectify. Steven fired off a string of texts to his sister Anna in Greenwich, Connecticut, telling her he was in dire need of her immediate in-person assistance. His sister was 18 months younger than he was, but much wiser, especially when it came to relationships and all the tricky emotions that came with them.

Ten minutes later he received a text from Anna announcing her arrival into Grand Central at 8:55 P.M. Before he could text back telling her to take a car, two more texts arrived explaining the latest snowfall was backing up traffic, with Google Maps showing how a train would be the fastest way into Manhattan for her. Anna’s last text stated she expected him to pick her up at Grand Central in person so she could hear his side of the 911 gf emergency!! Steven replied with only the single character: k, as there was no emoji face to pictorially represent the grand scale of how fucked he truly was. ●

Excerpt from Anna K. Copyright © 2020 by Jenny Lee. Reprinted with the permission of Flatiron Books.

Jenny Lee is a television writer and producer who has worked on BET’s Boomerang, IFC’s Brockmire, Freeform’s Young & Hungry, and the Disney Channel's number-one-rated kids' show, Shake It Up. Jenny has previously published humor essay collections and middle-grade novels, and Anna K is her debut YA novel. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and 135-pound Newfoundland, Gemma (and yes, it's a toss-up on who's walking who every day). Get your copy here.

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