Nicely done for a period piece, with no great epiphanies. Lyrical writing was complimented by a smooth, cultured, millenial-ish reader's voice that well reflected the early 20's age and refinement of the main character.
A touch of The Great Gatsby and perhaps even Henry James. The novel relishes the opulence of the social era while ignoring the historical context.
Perhaps the wandering story is intended to reflect the style of writing of the pre-WW II period in which it is set. But while it finally arrives at a conclusion (honestly I nearly gave up), it is only after becoming painfully stuck, again and again, for tiresome interludes before the characters reluctantly trudge forward with their lives.
This is the story of the shallow life of a dedicated social climber who leaves her immigrant parentage behind without a trace to firmly attach to the 1%. It seems that one can pursue the good life with barely any awareness at all of Europe falling into ruins or the other headlines that were changing the direction of the society and the country.
In fact, George Washington himself (collector of the "rules of civility" found in his papers and at the end of this book) was a noted climber who quit the British Army after a distinguished career because the class system would never allow a colonial to become a general. And right he was to do so, as the new colonial revolutionary army gave him all the field one could desire for a generalship.
When, at the end, the main character summarizes her own great accomplishment of re-inventing herself, nothing had been learned that was news to me.
I loved this book. It surprised me--the plot winds and turns mimicking life rather than fiction yet still genially leading the reader by the hand to a satisfying conclusion.
If you accept that you're also supposed to be one of the many who line up to fall in love with Kate you'll make it through this book just fine. I don't believe the author expected her to come across as slightly too beautiful, poised and unflappable, but there it is - and the unerringly apropos quotes from the great literary canonwon't make anyone give an eye roll in the direction of our Kate at all.
Make it past this, however, and you will be richly rewarded. In no short order the story is nuanced and poignant, the prose is nearly flawless and evocatively simple - like a perfect strand of pearls paired with a little black dress and the narrator is at the top of her game. That is why you will find yourself comfortably drawn into the Great Gatsbyesque embrace of this book - rear view mirror vignette building at its finest.
Yes, I enjoyed the story and the narration. The story kept me entertained and wanting to listen to more.
The characters were well developed, so I enjoyed the whole book.
Everything. I really enjoyed listening to her narrate this novel. I will be looking for more read by her.
Title works fine as it
I wish this author had many more books.
Having not read the print version, I can only say that the audio version of Rules of Civility is outstanding. I cannot imagine how the print version could be better. The narrator's voice is perfect for a mature Kate, reflecting after many years....
I thought Kate was fascinating: intelligent, evolving, reflective, irreverent--admirable.
Rebecca Lowman's voice is so very finely tuned. She reads without flourish but with the perfect soupcon of irony and humor. Her voice is warm: she does not seem anything but wise, reflecting back on the years and a time--and people--long gone.
Forgive our Youth
I was tasked with weeding our garden this past week, and I can say that least favorite task was a delight this time because the book I was listening to took my mind off the boredom of the task.
Beautifully written. A philosophical stroll through a Rockwell painting. Towels brings a long forgotten New York back to life with all the vibrancy it deserves. I could listen to it again and again.
I had to force myself to finish & it was excruciating. The writing is overdone & more pretentious than the characters. About the time I was ready to scream for less prosy nonsense & more dialogue (1st chapter) was when I realized how bad the narrator was. Combine monotone voice, clipped responses & bad Katherine Hepburn imitations - excruciating.
I listened through to the end, which I can't say for all of them. So it was entertaining enough to listen to while taking a hot bath, or lying on a beach. And it involved no stress at all, so I could listen before bed.
The author's imaginings of what NYC in the 30's would have been like.
The narration was good at times, but at others the narrator failed the author.
No, it just caused me to wear my cynical hat and doubt the likelihood of the rags-to-riches stories.
Beautifully and vibrantly written and read. Brings to life NYC in the late 30s, and the relationships one woman lives through in a year. The ups and downs ring true and there is a sweet, but never cloying, nostalgia. Not for the time period (although the period details are rich), but for the people who come into and out of every life.
I don't usually take a chance on authors I don't know, but I'm so glad I did with this book! It flows easily, weaving you into the story and the characters and the atmosphere of 1939 Manhattan before you even notice. The author makes judicious decisions that reveal intriguing aspects of humanity, society and social nature instead of heading toward the trite and expected.
I'm a huge fan of Edith Wharton and I think she would read this book with ready appreciation - a high compliment!