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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

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (2388 )
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  •  
    dumbclub Penland, NC USA 07-13-12
    dumbclub Penland, NC USA 07-13-12 Member Since 2015

    Reader, Listener, Optimist

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Transporting"

    This novel successfully took me to a distant and unfamiliar place and time. When I'm on the streets of New York these days, my mind's eye is often looking for the past, imagining the millions who've walked on every sidewalk or lived in any one of the scores of small apartments. In a place that has so many people, most of them transient, I'm fascinated by all of the life that must have taken place on a given spot.

    Armor Towles' novel about one young woman's experiences of Manhattan in the late 30's illustrates what life there might have been like. Other reviewers have said it may not be a perfect picture of the city or it's people at that time, but it is a delightfully credible and believable story.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KP Oakland, CA 04-23-12
    KP Oakland, CA 04-23-12 Member Since 2012

    There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – Emily Dickinson

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Nostalgia from a bygone era..."

    I really enjoyed reading Rules of Civility. It seems like it would make a great movie that I would jump to see. The novel is really a great description of life in Manhattan in 1938. I loved the way the author brought in so many little details about music and books and movies that are our legacy from that period of time.

    Also, the story is a good one. It has a lot of tension built in about what is going to happen to the main character Katy and her roommate, Eve. I like the way the book opens when Katy is a grown woman looking back at that year in her life. It is an opening that adds to the dramatic tension because the reader really wants to know about this T. Gray fellow she sees in the photos in the exhibit she???s viewing in the beginning. Right now it???s reminding me of the opening of The Kitchen House, which is really an event at the end of the book chronologically, but it makes you wonder all the way through about the explanation for that event. That???s a good literary device!

    Another fun thing for me about the book is all the ways that it evokes The Great Gatsby. It is fun to try and figure out all the various comparisons. And there are quite a few other literary references, too, that I loved. Thoreau, Ulysses ("Yes, yes, yes..." ), Dickens... and more.

    I would have given it 5 stars except for me the middle section of the book seemed to go on too long or sort of languish in details and a string of unrelated events. The book is basically covering only a period of one year. In the middle it seemed to me like several years had gone by because of this string of events. These events were interesting, but I just didn???t think they worked toward moving the plot along. The book picked up again, however, and had a satisfying latter half and ending.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julius Rego Park, NY, United States 10-01-11
    Julius Rego Park, NY, United States 10-01-11

    Avid Reader

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    "GOOD CONCEPT, BORING STORY"

    After the love affair for 1930s New York, it is all downhill. A boring book, enought said.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janet United States 09-07-11
    Janet United States 09-07-11 Member Since 2013
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    "remarkable first novel"

    If you enjoy truly eloquent writing, you will be glad to find Amor Towles. Wonderful turns of phrase, a delightful recreation of an interesting era, three dimensional characters. I will be watching for his next offereing.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Atlanta, GA 10-27-11
    Amazon Customer Atlanta, GA 10-27-11 Member Since 2003

    ShootingFish

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    "Thoroughly enjoyed story and reader"

    I really enjoyed this book. The story was easy to follow, plenty of interest and well written. The reader was also excellent. Highly recommend to women. Don't think the guys will care for this one much.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nicole 08-17-11
    Nicole 08-17-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Could taste the martinis"

    I could taste the martinis, hear the jazz and feel the 1930's NYC pavement under my feet. I enjoyed the writing, the story and the narrator. I had to listen to this book a second time, which I hardly ever do. As I read this book, I wondered how my life would have been different in the 1930's as a woman, and what choices I would have made. There were many paths in this book, many ways that people were true to themselves.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vered 01-01-14
    Vered 01-01-14 Member Since 2008
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    "Fascinating Debut"

    Very well written debut novel. I expect most reviewers would say the book is foremost a homage to The Great Gatsby and Breakfast at Tiffany's, but in addition to the tribute, the stroy in itself is fascinating.
    You could say that while trying to follow the tradition of these great American writers Towels might be lacking in ingenuity, but I personally think that a writer should be a reader, at first. and when a writer pays tribute to his favorite novelists, it doesn't necessarily mean, he is giving up his own voice.
    I much enjoyed this book in it's own, and the tribute to these great writers was a much enjoyable bonus.
    Readers who love New York as i do (without ever living there), will be touched, by the referance to "Autumn in New York".

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KP United States 06-17-13
    KP United States 06-17-13 Member Since 2005
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    "Add this to Your Summer Reading List"

    I read this because my friend recommended it. From the love story to the delightful characters to the enjoyable way it is written, I really enjoyed it. The narrator did a nice job with the voices. There were a lot of characters and some jumping around in time, but it was easy to keep it all straight.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eoin Kilcullen, Ireland 07-12-12
    Eoin Kilcullen, Ireland 07-12-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Excellent writing from a feminine perspective"

    I could have sworn this book was written by a woman, but there you go! Amor Towles channels Wharton from time to time in this very-well written period piece. Some may consider it a little slow-moving, but please stick with it: the second half moves a little better than the first.

    Rebecca Lowman gives a fine performance too. All-in-all, a welcome addition to my Library and well worth a credit.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dana B. Miller ny, ny 05-30-12
    Dana B. Miller ny, ny 05-30-12 Member Since 2008

    yogaliscious

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    "this is the best novel i've read in ages"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Rules of Civility to be better than the print version?

    i didn't read the print version but the performance was pitch perfect.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Rules of Civility?

    there are so many crystal-perfect moments in this book, i can't even choose when asked to pick 'one of the most memorable moments'. meeting tinker, the accident, katey getting her hair colored and buying the dress to wear on her birthday, katey and tinker in the cabin, katey and tinker down in his brother's tenement apartment....i could go on and on.


    Which character ??? as performed by Rebecca Lowman ??? was your favorite?

    katey, katey, katey.


    If you could rename Rules of Civility, what would you call it?

    my crystalline year.


    Any additional comments?

    this is literature. the book sings, it buzzes, it offers metaphors that are at once original and so spot on, they're like poetry of old. a perfect marriage of poetry and prose, of plot and voice, of intellectual experience and emotional journey. everything i've read since has paled...and much that i've read before has, too.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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