A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles
4 ⭐️ ‘s from Me.
Goodreads Summary: “From the New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Civility—a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel
With his breakout debut novel, Rules of Civility, Amor Towles established himself as a master of absorbing, sophisticated fiction, bringing late 1930s Manhattan to life with splendid atmosphere and a flawless command of style.
A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery.
Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.”
This was a jovial read. Unlike the Russian classics revered and referenced in this book, the story of the Count stuck in the hotel has a surprisingly optimistic tone. Towles has explained that he found inspiration when he stayed in the same hotels repeatedly and began to observe other regulars.
Don’t worry if you are not a Russian history buff – Towles does a good job of explaining the history as time progresses throughout the novel. The tone of the footnote technique he occasionally uses as a teaching moment is lighthearted and is a nice breakup of the story. I loved the way Count Rostov’s observations from the bowels of the hotel were a window into the history passing around him, and how perhaps history repeats itself more than we realizes.
The characterization in this novel is lovely – Count Rostov is portrayed as the positive, fatherly figure for the Metropol patrons and staff, and even his own family. As each layer of Rostov is revealed, you realize how he has touched each and everyone’s life while being a prisoner.
Despite the good feels this novel gives, it does take a while to get going. It isn’t until about half-way through the book where the plot really picks up and I found myself wanting to get back to The Count and The Metropol Hotel as soon as I started my train ride home. So don’t give up! I also think there were a couple of unanswered questions as to how the plot progresses so smoothly and whether the life the Count lives was really accurately explained.
But, overall its a great read. I’ve even added Towles’ other novel, Rules of Civility, to my TBR list. Let me know what you think!