A Gentleman in Moscow (2016) by Amor Towles
Genre: Fiction – Historical
Summary: Amor Towles’s novel A Gentleman in Moscow chronicles the life of the Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov. Due to unsavory writings that dissatisfied the Russian government in the early 1900s, Count Rostov is sullied away on house arrest at the Hotel Metropol, in the heart of Moscow. Forbidden to ever leave the hotel, Count Rostov spends his days meandering through the rooms and restaurants, the bars, the barbershop, and tailor.
The pace of A Gentleman in Moscow mimics this meandering. At times, I didn’t know what the purpose of the story was. Count Rostov is extremely likable, funny, and sweet. The workers of the hotel become his closest friends and confidants. As a gentleman of leisure, the Count is witty and learned in food, literature, and conversation. He is utterly charming.
Count Rostov’s life is changed when he befriends a small girl in the hotel. Little Nina brings life to his routine and slowly begins to change his life and the purpose of it.
Technical Summary: While I enjoyed the novel, the meandering pace became a bit weary. I had to put the book down and it took me longer than I expected. But that may be the point. It isn’t particularly exciting – no explosions or car chases. The most fast-paced it gets is in the last 50 pages. But the Count’s life isn’t particulary exciting. He makes the details exciting – the describing of dinner, the last of the perfect wine, the unique conversation with the American diplomat in the bar. It is beautifully written, even if slow. Towles brings the beauty and contradictory nature of this Russia to bright life, without ever leaving the Hotel Metropol.
Author: Amor Towles is an American writer. A Gentleman in Moscow is his second novel, preceded by Rules of Civility.
Lover of the written word.