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
Amor Towles crafts such beautiful sentences. Sometimes too beautiful because the storyline gets a bit lost in all the details. The story is captivating, nonetheless. I was sorry when it was finished.
Very interesting story of a young woman winding through history and many characters. I enjoyed this very much and would recommend.
I would listen to it again to savor the exquisite writing and excellent performance.
Definitely a classic. On par with Hemingway and Fitzgerald.
Rules of civility
The narrator dropped her voice for the male characters, which didn't always work. More annoyingly, she added what were supposed to be "endearing" pauses to Wallace's voice, but they sounded more like pre-stomach sickness hiccups. I nearly put the book down for good at that point.
Highly recommended. I enjoyed the book, although I found the epilogue a bit too long.
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.
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