Amor Towles is approaching 50 and making a living as a principal at an investment firm. One wouldn’t expect his debut novel to be told from the perspective of a wise-cracking young lady of 25, but Towles is good at surprises. Katherine Kontent (“like the state of being”) is a legal secretary trying to climb the social ladder and squeeze all the juice out of Manhattan. She is the only slightly less seductive sidekick to Eve, who leaves her wealthy family behind to act like a mash-up of Christopher Isherwood's Sally Bowles and Truman Capote's Holly Golightly. It's the Upper East Side in the winter of 1939 — ripe for ripping off F. Scott Fitzgerald or Ernest Hemingway or whatever writer you prefer from the era of roaring alcoholism, but Amor Towles doesn’t take the bait.
Neither does narrator Rebecca Lowman, who has good fun with the zippy dinner conversations while managing to keep Kate's sporting sense of dignity intact as both lovers and day jobs threaten to collapse her up-and-comingness. Lowman, who has a long string of television series bit parts from Will & Grace to Law & Order to her credit, slips easily into the everywoman role and adds notes of believable determination to our heroine's struggle for better circumstances. Who will marry Tinker Grey and who will get the promotion at Conde Nast are interesting plots, but none of this is the surprise - the plot surprise is all the more devastating. Towles gives us some glitter, but he doesn't gloss, and that is the biggest surprise. The women in this book are fraught with the tremendous burden of appearing charming but unintelligent, and Lowman lets in enough sharp tones to give their dilemmas and revelations a substantial bite. Towles has fleshed out these familiar archetypes in a unique direction, so much more rich and thick than the flat characters with which novels of this time period are usually laden. Megan Volpert
The New York Times best-selling novel that "enchants on first reading and only improves on the second" (The Philadelphia Inquirer).
Features a sample chapter from A Gentleman in Moscow, the highly anticipated new audiobook from Amor Towles - available fall 2016.
This sophisticated and entertaining first novel presents the story of a young woman whose life is on the brink of transformation. On the last night of 1937, 25-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a yearlong journey into the upper echelons of New York society - where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve.
With its sparkling depiction of New York's social strata, its intricate imagery and themes, and its immensely appealing characters, Rules of Civility won the hearts of readers and critics alike.
Hear why Rules of Civility is Our Book of the Summer.
©2011 Amor Towles (P)2011 Penguin
Looking for riveting fiction with well developed characters, close to real life stories and a compelling narrator who feels the story.
The story, the characters and the narrator are fabulous. Love the narrator's accent and passion as she brings to life the characters and the scenes. I felt like I was there experiencing everything first hand.
The main character is outstanding - really well written and very strong believable woman.
Rebecca brings the characters to life - wonderful accents and personality.
In parts I laughed in others, I held my breath until I found out what was going to happen next.
I was drawn to this book because I love the 1930's and I especially love Manhattan in the 1930's. If Towles was to write another book in which the time period/locale was the same I would read it.
I'd recommend it to certain people.
The narrator did a wonderful job bringing the characters to life.
The dialouge was snappy and smart; sometimes too much so. It sounded just a smidge unrealistic.
Yes, this writer uses language and creates word-pictures in an exquisite manner. I could not stop listening after the first chapter, which seemed slow. I am so glad I carried on and listened more, as the remainder of the story was masterfully written. Hard to believe this is a first time novelist.
NYC In 1938 started out to be fun and light hearted for Katie and Eve. By the end of the year, relationships and new friends have changed their lives forever. This was a fun fast story of friends and relationships that happened by chance. This was a good story for a first time author. In first time novels, authors usually try to fit all their ideas in the first book. This book is no exception but most of the authors ideas do get wrapped up nicely.
Cinematic. Memorable. Rich.
The opening scenes of Tinker, Katya and Eve meeting and their escapades.
Tinker, Eve, Ann Grandin, Wallace. All interesting, rich in detail and character. I didn't want any of them to vanish.
Absolutely fantastic reader.SO well cast.Interestingly, I had to read back over the first chapter to feel better about the ending. It's not the ending anyone wants, but at least it's not overly neat and unbelievable. Warning – spoilers:Despite the good, there are some things in this story that don't add up in this book:1.)It just wasn't believable that Tinker would not have had other important finance clients given that he was so intelligent, monied, living and mingling among the powerful, adorable and charismatic. Readers shouldn't buy it that he wouldn't have been smart enough to build a clientele to sustain him.Also, I don't know a soul who will believe that Tinker was happy living destitute, nor that he wouldn't have climbed up to make it on his own again. Totally not believable if you read with any analytic nature.2.)Anne Grandin is a fascinating and likable antagonist, well written. However, I didn't believe that a character that smart who so carefully crafted everything she said would "lose her cool" so badly and shove her tongue down Katey's mouth. Not after the setup she'd crafted so smartly just prior. It's too messy for Anne.3.)There's no "Brooklyn" in the main character, who's supposed to be from Brooklyn.And there's definitely a miss in the perspective of a female from this male author. For instance, Katey and Eve seem so close, yet all they have is friction between one another so you're left to think they really can't be close. And when Katey sleeps with her first guy in the book, she was most likely a virgin for the experience, but the author misses that entirely. 4.)There's lots of cinematic rambling in this book. So many details that are not "aiding" the story or crafting a character nor pushing the story forward in any way. These unnecessary on-and-ons about architectural details or paper airplanes are not something most writers are afforded without criticism.
This book received excellent reviews when it was published and it definitely lived up to the hype. The narration by Rebecca Lowman added another delicious layer of enjoyment because she was SPOT ON; the novel is entirely in the voice of a female narrator and Lowman's voice became the voice of Katy Kontent for me. It sounded as if she were very naturally telling me her own story. When reading the words of other characters, her vocal shifts were distinguishable but not overdone in a way that distracts.
This isn't a quick read, but I felt regret every time I was required to put it aside in order to get on with my daily life. I wanted to "stay tuned" and see what happened next. The story was believable but not predictable, which was intriguing. I would eagerly explore any other novel Towles writes.
At the outset, I didn't know that "Amor" (the author's given name) was actually a man's name. The female lead character's reactions and interior conversations resonate with a woman reader as completely authentic.
As an older reader, this book helped me recall what it is to be in one's mid-twenties and making decisions about who you are and who you will become.
This is an unsolicited review, but one I felt compelled to include it in the list, if it is selected. I look carefully at other listeners' comments before making a selection and I hope this review leads another person to discover this wonderful rendition of a first-rate novel.
A nice ride
I probably would. He is incredibly articulate and has an amazing sense of history and literature.
No but I would listen to almost anything she read based on this.
I would have. The story was a bit slow at times but her voice was wonderful.
The book was recommended to me, but I chose to 'listen' on audible. So glad I did.
The setting in 1930's New York is a great backdrop for the lives of these working class, passionate, wealthy, young players. Loyalty, betrayal, debts are,themes that run throughout .
I was intrigued by the character of Eve. Flawed, beautiful, and complex.
Lowman brings dimension to characters.
Absolving the past
This is one of those books you love "living in".
The story is okay. But there is not much of a climax. The setting is good, the storyline is good. But nothing happens. Preformance was good.
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