Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel, A

Amor Towles
“In all ways a great novel, a nonstop pleasure brimming with charm, personal wisdom, and philosophic insight . . .this book more than fulfills the promise of Towles' stylish debut, Rules of Civility." – Kirkus Reviews (starred)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. Readers and critics were enchanted; as NPR commented, “Towles writes with grace and verve about the mores and manners of a society on the cusp of radical change.” 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.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2021-01-19
I thought: Wow, does this book have no plot at all?

I checked other goodreads reviews.

I confirmed: Yup, this book has no plot at all.

I abandoned it. Beautifully written - well, good enough - but . . . so what?
Reviewed: 2019-06-18

Kirkus Prize Nominee for Fiction (2016), International DUBLIN Literary Award Shortlist (2018), Book of the Month Book of the Year Award Nominee (2016)


I put off reading this for ages because it felt a bit daunting, and for some reason I feel like if I'm going to read a tome (especially about Russia,) it may as well be Anna Karenina or War & Peace... Nonetheless, I've owned it since it was released (a gift) and in an effort to beat the backlist living on my shelves, I finally got down to it a few days ago. It starts with a bang then moves to a slow simmer that drags on too long, but once I pushed past that I'd fallen in love (and lost another night's sleep.)

Our protagonist, the fictional Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, may be one of the most charming main characters I've met in a while. Imprisoned in the Metropol Hotel for life when he's in his very early 30s, he maintains a sense of noblesse oblige and decency that never fails. From the Metropol we watch decades of history pass, but they aren't the story: our Count and his ever-broadening circle of friends in the Metropol are. In this respect it feels suspiciously close to Eloise and the Plaza at times (and I'm seriously not kidding about that.)

The book is way too long to recap, but there is a constant examination of life and the people who are allowed to pass through the hotel's doors. Rostov makes the best of his situation and forms his own family of others within the hotel's walls. He is polite, generous and kind....human beings are so capricious, so complex, so delightfully contradictory, that they deserve not only our consideration, but our reconsideration... He is, in fact, a gentleman. 

If I'd read this before witnessing the pitchforked American mobs in the last decade, I'd say that the Count feels too American. He does have an indomitable spirit that feels more American than the brooding Russian themes he occasionally discusses. While he is steeped in tragedy and loss (his family is dead, his friends gone,) he is damned cheerful, and incredibly smart and lucky. But if he'd been depressing, nobody would make it through this novel (which really does drag for too long.) Because he's a master of optimism and capable of true decency and growth, reading his story is nearly as pleasurable as meeting him would have been. 

Reviewed: 2019-04-03

“In all ways a great novel, a nonstop pleasure brimming with charm, personal wisdom, and philosophic insight . . .this book more than fulfills the promise of Towles' stylish debut, Rules of Civility." – Kirkus Reviews (starred)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 [...]

Reviewed: 2017-11-04

One of my favorite books that I have ever read. I highly recommend it if you enjoy people watching and/or the movie "Grand Budapest Hotel," and it even has a bit of a heist at the end. Loved it!

-Anne

Reviewed: 2017-02-25
Beautifully written, great story. Want to read another of how books
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