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
well written debut
Wallace, because he completely took me by surprise
Rebecca's narration is fabulous - she really brought the characters to life
Maybe Tinker because he'd make a dashing dinner companion
I hesitated before buying this book and I'm very glad I did end up listening to it. It took me a few chapters to get in to it but, once I did, I was completely hooked
Yes, I think I'd get even more out of it the second reading. The writing was especially clever in addition to having a great plot.
I read very little fiction because I often find it boring. This story and performance captivated me.
The performance seemed perfectly matched to the story. It was as comfortable as a friend recounting a charming anecdote. Getting lost in the scenery was effortless.
I have not
Getting a snapshot into the lives of the rich during the late 20's and 30's. All the wealthy characters seemed to keep their wealth after the crash -- want to attend one of the swanky parties. A single woman making it on her own in Manhattan.
When she told Dickie that she loved Tinker. It sounded like things were going so well with him and I was hoping they would get together but she stayed true to her heart and bet on the love that never happened with Tinker.
Kate, of course.
Yes, this was a good book, at one point I was walking around the house cleaning carrying my iPad with me from room to room so I could keep listening.
Rebecca Lowman (the narrator) brought this book to life. She had the right tone.
This book took me a away to the 1930's and held me there breathless until the final minutes. This was one of THE best listens yet. The ending left me tearful AND hopeful for the characters. My ONLY regret is that it ended!
Fantastically transporting. The protagonist is a bit flat but you'll enjoy story nonetheless. Vividly drawn. Good story. Good times. have fun.
Delicious, delightful, de-lovely.
This is one of the best Audible books I've downloaded. It is well read but more importantly it is well written. The story is intelligently interwoven, unpredictable in a way that seems natural, and has characters one likes and cares about. It is also interesting to have a peek at life in New York City in the late 1930's and what it might have been like to be in one's 20's in that time and place.
New Year's Eve, 1938.
This was truly a grand tribute to all aspects of NYC. I thought Rebecca Lowman did an outstanding job and the authors prose was spot on. Some readers may be critical of the writing style but I thought it matched the time, location and characters perfectly. A thoroughly enjoyable listening/reading experience.
I actually listened to the Audible.com version of this book. That may have added to my rating since it was so well done.
I am not generally a lover of historical fiction, so I wouldn't have picked this up on my own. I am so happy that it was a book club choice, since that's what got me to read it. It starts and ends in the 60s, which is close enough to the present for me. But the bulk of the novel takes place in the late 30s. It's the story of Katie and Tinker, both from working class backgrounds, and the different ways that they joined the upper crust as well as how their social climbs affected them both. At one point, Katie uses honeymoon bridge as a metaphor for life. You draw a card and then must choose whether to keep it or discard it and draw another. And each card defines in some way how your life will proceed.
The book was beautifully written, the characters so real, and it felt as though I were right there in 1930s New York. I did some extra driving because I didn't want to leave it, and now I'm sad that it's over.
Moving, breathtaking, surprising
Ethan Frome. Once I really got into the storyline of this book, I couldn't help thinking of how easily it would have been for all three major characters to fit into Ethan Frome's life. Without giving away spoilers, there are similarities, but well played and totally fitting.
I think if I had just read the book I wouldn't have caught the emotional depth of the sadness through the eyes of the main character.
Report Inappropriate Content