A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow

Book - 2016
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"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"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Viking, [2016]
ISBN: 9780670026197
0670026190
Branch Call Number: FICTION TOWLES 2016
Characteristics: 462 pages : map ; 24 cm

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k
kathywsd
May 15, 2018

Can I really be the only person who didn't care for this book? Or is everyone else just afraid to say so! I was so bored I only got through about 100 pages and gave up.

t
tjdickey
May 03, 2018

Towles guides us on a literary journey through all of the major nodes of Russian culture in the early 20th century - the political mayhem around the founding of the Soviet state, the hopefulness of the Five Year Plans and the growing bureaucracy, the rise of Stalin and the different relations with the United States. We get to experience the best of Russian food, music, jazz, ballet, fashion, and even underground religion.
But the best aspect for Russophiles (or anyone who enjoys a good turn of phrase) is that the author shapes his prose to mirror aesthetic shifts through time: echoes of imperial Tolstoy at first, followed by moments of world-weary Soviet realism, and some hints of quiet absurdist protest against the way of life. All of this smorgasboard is laid before us in the limited space of the Hotel Metropol, where the title character is sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life.
The phrase tour de force is appropriate.

t
talk2terih
Apr 25, 2018

Towles offers us a simple moral story of a Russian aristocrat consigned to the purgatory of life under house arrest as a consequence of the Bolshevik revolution. The Count is confronted with two choices: bemoaning his fate while allowing his constricting environment to constrict his spirit or opening himself to every experience the microcosmic world of his luxury hotel "prison" has to offer. The choice he makes changes his life and those of the people around him.

The story has the feel of a modern day fairy tale. The Count is reminiscent of The Little Princess, alone in his garrett room, dreaming of better days, but heartened by the colorful individuals who come and go in his life, changing it for the better. The Princess had her nabob. The Count has the hotel's guests, employees, and visitors.

In spite of the fanciful premise of house arrest in a luxury hotel, the characters and their emotions feel very real. Towles depicts the aristocrat whose way of life has become obsolete beautifully. The Count is educated, witty, cultured, urbane, and unfailingly kind to everyone he meets. He is the very image of what well bred meant in his age. It is that very kindness that saves him when he contemplates taking his own life. And it is his kindness and friendship toward the hotel employees that provides him with a family to replace those he has lost.

Yes, the tale has a touch of the saccharine here and there and asks us to believe some situations and events that strain credulity, but what would a fairytale be without some sugarplums and magic?

x
xiaojunbpl12
Apr 20, 2018

Perfect read for the book club, when ladies' proclivity of feeling good peppered with emotion turmoil.
I kept in mind of my proletariat upbringing, working class ethics, intellectual enrichment in minimum material means, ideology (that would deprave but not...), lack and envious of aristocrat elegance..., I tried to discount such a fictionalized fairy tale and a grandiloquent personal epic. Nevertheless, I was totally captivated by the humor and wisdom delivered in an utterly artificial setting against the true historical backdrop with fake minutiae I care about deeply.
The bottom line is, I identify with the Count (Sasha, Rostov, Alexander, "Your Excellency").

The writer's craft seems intuitive, a non-acquired talent.

d
davelaw
Apr 10, 2018

A beautifully constructed story. Every word, phrase, sentence, paragraph, and chapter are to be savored.

l
Lotushead
Apr 08, 2018

It was so very enjoyable to read this book!

m
mimimcl
Mar 22, 2018

Simply delightful. Great characters and a bit of mystery and subtle sense of humor. Loved the musical references.

r
rogebc_0
Mar 17, 2018

I loved reading this book. So Russian. Count Rostov is confined to the Metropole hotel for life in 1922 for being an aristocrat. History rolls by outside and Count Rostov learns to adapt inside. The words of his father inspire him - "One must either master one's circumstances or be mastered by them." Within the walls of the hotel and over the years he falls into despair, retreats from suicide, makes deep friendships, has engaging work that calls upon his talents, has a great love and also cares for a child who is the child of another child for whom he cared. The first child grows up in the hotel, explores with Rostov and leaves him with her pass key. She goes off to fight with the serious world outside of the hotel and only comes back to leave Rostov her daughter to care for. It is a ramble and wonderful to read.

m
m0mmyl00
Mar 14, 2018

Five stars doesn’t even begin to describe the wonderfulness of this book. I was enchanted from start to finish. Count Rostov, a member of the Russian elite, was sentenced to house arrest in a grand hotel. He was moved from his former sumptuous quarters to a cramped upper room and eventually became a waiter in the dining room he had frequented as a guest. Unexpectedly, he was asked to take care of a friend’s daughter for a short while. The “short while” turned in to the rest of his life. Through it all, he remained the epitome of a gentleman. He was kind and thoughtful to others and relished the moments and relationships that enriched his life (and too often pass unnoticed by those of us who have a wealth of them). He reminded me of Mr Pettigrew in Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. What an antidote to the self-absorption and hostility towards others so prevalent today.

b
bava2460
Mar 13, 2018

If you have an interest in Russian history ; particularly around 1918 you will appreciate this historical fiction. Grounded in history from the personal perspective of a former Soviet elite who is exiled to house arrest in a prominent hotel, the reader is given insight into all levels of society during this tumultuous time. Highly recommended!

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Carolyn_51
Mar 14, 2018

The author shows insight into the customs. language, and values of his characters and their time. In just a few words he makes the reader picture the scene and often leaves gaps of years, leaving an explanation of what happened during this time for later in the story. A book that I couldn't put down.

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