From the New York Times best-selling 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. Listeners 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.
©2016 Amor Towles (P)2016 Penguin Audio
"The book moves briskly from one crisp scene to the next, and ultimately casts a spell as captivating as Rules of Civility, a book that inhales you into its seductively Gatsby-esque universe." (Town & Country)
"A gifted narrator, Nicholas Guy Smith captures scene and character with expressive shadings of voice and tone - a master performance that engages the listener from the start and illuminates Towles's telling prose and subtle dialogue. In a season of outstanding novels, this one stands out." (AudioFile)
From the first dramatic opening of A Gentleman in Moscow when Count Rostov is sentenced to house arrest in the fabulous Metropole Hotel, we are introduced to a time when language mattered, people spoke to each other in civil terms, and fine art, music, and literature were important. Through each scene we live with the count as he actually EXPERIENCES time--not simply moving through it to get to the next moment--but living each sense--the taste of food, the emotion of a piece of music, the deep ideas of literature and philosophy through which he views his world. He promises himself at the start of his unique arrest that he will not have events make him, rather, he will make the events of his life and so rule in the time he has. One wonders at the beginning how a man will Iive in a hotel without stepping from it. The author, Amor Towels, takes the reader day by day through the creation of a world that is narrow, but full and rich. In fact, although most of us have freedom of movement, there is little that we have in our lives that Rostov does not find in the hotel--and perhaps more. The reading by Nicholas Guy Smith is absolutely superb, catching every nuance of the author--the character's dignity, his questions of life, his search for the Russian soul, the importance of the friendships in his life, his concerns and fears. I never wanted this story to end, because when reading it, I felt the slowed down moments of my own life, with all the simple pleasures we take for granted.
Masterful, Charming, Engrossing
I can't think of any. Having said that, one of the best things in this book is the way that the characterization, which is rich, drives an excellent plot. I loved the characters and I miss them now that the book is behind me. This book makes excellent points about Soviet Russia, without preaching anything at all.
There are so many terrific scenes that this is impossible to say, especially if one does not wish to give anything important away. The ending is magnificent, but how terrible to describe it and ruin the book for others! The Count's relationship with his young friend yields some real amusement in several scenes, in particular the one in which she comes up to him in the hotel restaurant and asks him what became of his mustaches. This is the beginning of a beautifully drawn relationship. A scene in which the child is testing Newton's theory of gravity remains in the mind's eye. There are many scenes that are visually appealing, in addition to being clever and spinning the plot along nicely. If this isn't made into a movie, I cannot imagine why. There is so much in this that is tailor made for cinematic treatment.
Impossible. It is much too long, BUT yes I wanted to just keep listening rather than attending to things...
Loved it. At the end, I went back and listened to the beginning and found myself thinking, "Ah!!" I really could have listened to the whole thing again! There were so many nuances and there was such depth of detail that revealed itself when I listened again. What a great book!
I am not fan of fiction, but I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It was well written and beautifully narrated. The book traces a fictional Russian Aristocrat, Count Alexander Ilych Rostov who fled Russia before the outbreak of World War I and returned to Russia following the execution of the last Czar- only to be arrested four years later (1922) by the Bolsheviks and sentenced to lifetime house arrest in the Metropole Hotel in Moscow (near the Kremlin). The novel chronicles his 22 years of imprisonment in that hotel and through his eyes the listener enjoys a front row seat in watching Russian history unfold during the Stalinist period (including the Collectivization Farm Project, the Purges, a little bit of World War II and the beginning of the post-Stalinist period). While the count remains locked in the Metropole (and the world he has created for himself therein) the listener is given the opportunity to see how his world stays the same while all of Russia changes and the changes are exemplified through the people with whom the count comes into contact with- including his longtime friend from university, Mischa (a poet), a Soviet era actress (with whom he has a love affair), a little girl whose father was a Ukrainian bureaucrat, and then several years her daughter. The book was extremely well written and narrated that I finished listening to it in less than 3 days (which I normally never do). Some of the quotes from the count in reaction to the change in his circumstances are really profound and worth remembering. Admittedly there are some historical inaccuracies in the book but these in no way infringed on my enjoyment of the book.
The narration for this book was beautifully done with great inflection, timing and good definition between the characters. It made it possible for me to complete 18 hours of listening to what in the end was a slow and plodding story.
To me, this book fit far more clearly into the romance fiction genre than a firmer historic fiction genre. The writing while good was so gently done that I fear much of the drama, violence and history of the time were lost in the storytelling.
Be aware, if you are looking for action, an accurate capture of historic events and an edge of your seat pace you won't find it here. Rather, what you will find is history by candle light--filtered through a gauze made up of an elegant hotel, vintage wine and gourmet dining--night after night after night. Very little will disturb or distress a gentle listener. At the same time very little will enlighten and expand the listener's understanding of the Russian Revolution and its aftermath into the Soviet Era.
I have to admit that while being beguiled by the narration I was at the same time disappointed by the feeling of fantasy and unreality of it all. Really, in the end, it was history lite with most of the nasty bits removed. Recommended only if you like gentle stories that please, but rest ever so lightly on fact, probability and history.
If you follow my reviews I can promise to never bore you with reciting what the book is about- and I will never ever give anything away.
Everything one could want in a book - history, suspense, espionage, friendship, politics, food, love, philosophy, and class. The writing is almost as if it were meant to be read aloud/listened to, it's that beautiful. For example the window at the post office is described as "the glass which separates the written from the read."
This is a book I will urge all of my family and friends listen to. I plan on listening to it again which is an almost 'unheard' of thing for me to do.
This story brilliantly weaves together a tale of historically important moments, insight into human nature, advice on living well, suspense, humor, kindness and cruelty. I can't recommend it enough.
This book was such a treat. It is so well written I often thought "That is such a great sentence!" And I will listen to it over and over again.
PS Nicholas Guy Smith could not have been a more perfect narrator. I think his portrayal of the characters greatly added to my experience of the book. 5 stars.
I don't read a lot of fiction, and when I do I don't often enjoy historical fiction because as a historian I often find myself criticizing the sentimentality or inaccuracies. Towles creates a perfect dose of history in this absolutely captivating narrative. I rarely give five stars but so enjoyed this that I look forward to listening again, another rarity. The narration is superb and flowing, and I found myself loving all but one character. Truly, a wonderful story of friendship, love, civility and triumph over circumstances. My favorite line, not quoted exactly, is that is if often life's inconveniences that ending up mattering most. I cannot recommend this book more.
This intriguing story kept me engaged throughout.
The character development was intriguing and story line engaging.
Highly recommend. Regardless of the length it is well worth it.
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