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Rules of Civility Audiobook
Rules of Civility
Written by: 
Amor Towles
Narrated by: 
Rebecca Lowman
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Rules of Civility Audiobook

Rules of Civility: A Novel

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Audible Editor Reviews

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

Publisher's Summary

A sophisticated and entertaining debut novel about an irresistible young woman with an uncommon sense of purpose.

Set in New York City in 1938, Rules of Civility tells the story of a watershed year in the life of an uncompromising 25-year-old named Katey Kontent. Armed with little more than a formidable intellect, a bracing wit, and her own brand of cool nerve, Katey embarks on a journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool through the upper echelons of New York society in search of a brighter future.

The story opens on New Year's Eve in a Greenwich Village jazz bar, where Katey and her boardinghouse roommate Eve happen to meet Tinker Grey, a handsome banker with royal blue eyes and a ready smile. This chance encounter and its startling consequences cast Katey off her current course, but end up providing her unexpected access to the rarified offices of Conde Nast and a glittering new social circle. Befriended in turn by a shy, principled multimillionaire, an Upper East Side ne'er-do-well, and a single-minded widow who is ahead of her times, Katey has the chance to experience first hand the poise secured by wealth and station, but also the aspirations, envy, disloyalty, and desires that reside just below the surface. Even as she waits for circumstances to bring Tinker back into her orbit, she will learn how individual choices become the means by which life crystallizes loss.

Elegant and captivating, Rules of Civility turns a Jamesian eye on how spur of the moment decisions define life for decades to come. A love letter to a great American city at the end of the Depression, readers will quickly fall under its spell of crisp writing, sparkling atmosphere and breathtaking revelations, as Towles evokes the ghosts of Fitzgerald, Capote, and McCarthy.

Hear why Rules of Civility is Our Book of the Summer.

©2011 Amor Towles (P)2011 Penguin

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (2377 )
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4.1 (1934 )
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4.4 (1953 )
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Performance
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  •  
    sisterteresa GREENFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS, United States 01-19-13
    sisterteresa GREENFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS, United States 01-19-13
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    REVIEWS
    2
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    ""Fantabulous""
    Would you try another book from Amor Towles and/or Rebecca Lowman?

    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.


    Would you recommend Rules of Civility to your friends? Why or why not?

    I'd recommend it to certain people.


    What does Rebecca Lowman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The narrator did a wonderful job bringing the characters to life.


    Was Rules of Civility worth the listening time?

    Yes.


    Any additional comments?

    The dialouge was snappy and smart; sometimes too much so. It sounded just a smidge unrealistic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dr. Shemsi Prinzivalli NYC 01-01-13 Member Since 2011
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    44
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    "A brilliant and captivating novel"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    Loved it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dianna Kretzmer Maine 12-27-12
    Dianna Kretzmer Maine 12-27-12 Member Since 2015

    I love books

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    9
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "A year in the life of friends"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    G. Jones Laguna Beach, CA United States 12-09-12
    G. Jones Laguna Beach, CA United States 12-09-12 Member Since 2006

    No Webcrumbs

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Certain to be optioned for film by 2013"
    If you could sum up Rules of Civility in three words, what would they be?

    Cinematic. Memorable. Rich.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The opening scenes of Tinker, Katya and Eve meeting and their escapades.


    Who was the most memorable character of Rules of Civility and why?

    Tinker, Eve, Ann Grandin, Wallace. All interesting, rich in detail and character. I didn't want any of them to vanish.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol Prickett 12-07-12 Member Since 2016
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    "Irresistable!"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SL 12-04-12
    SL 12-04-12
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    "I enjoyed the story but really loved the narration"
    If you could sum up Rules of Civility in three words, what would they be?

    A nice ride


    Would you be willing to try another book from Amor Towles? Why or why not?

    I probably would. He is incredibly articulate and has an amazing sense of history and literature.


    Have you listened to any of Rebecca Lowman’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No but I would listen to almost anything she read based on this.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I would have. The story was a bit slow at times but her voice was wonderful.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean CHARLOTTE, NC, United States 11-30-12
    Jean CHARLOTTE, NC, United States 11-30-12 Member Since 2012
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    50
    3
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    Story
    "Transporting"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    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 .


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I was intrigued by the character of Eve. Flawed, beautiful, and complex.


    What does Rebecca Lowman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Lowman brings dimension to characters.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Absolving the past


    Any additional comments?

    This is one of those books you love "living in".

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MeloYelo Houston, Texas US 11-05-12
    MeloYelo Houston, Texas US 11-05-12 Member Since 2015
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    "Not much of a climax"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John S. Seattle, WA United States 10-24-12
    John S. Seattle, WA United States 10-24-12 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Outstanding writing and narration"

    After the first third or so, which dragged for me, the book took off when it shifted to a focus on Katey herself, with secondary characters introduced supporting her story well. The author doesn't just know how to turn a phrase, he lobs them repeatedly! I'm left wondering: how does he top this one, or at least match it?
    Audio narration was so well done that I wasn't sorry I paid for the book, rather than borrow it from the library.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deanna Scottsdale, AZ 10-18-12
    Deanna Scottsdale, AZ 10-18-12 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Read!"

    This was a well written, well detailed picture of an interesting time in America.
    I was completely taken with this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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