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Editorial Reviews

Editors Select, September 2016 - When we had our first child, my husband and I sullenly moved out of Manhattan, but Amor Towles was there to nurse me through that heartbreak with his debut novel and love letter to the city, Rules of Civility. Despite my perhaps unhealthy attachment to that book (I read it, then re-read it, then listened to it, then re-listened to it), I can say objectively it was one of the most crisp and intelligent books I've ever encountered. It's common to worry that a second book can't match the brilliance of a debut, but A Gentleman in Moscow doesn't disappoint. Though vastly different in tone and style, the same intelligence pulses under the surface. Continuing in the same epiphany-rich vein, keen observations, quotable moments, and tremendous insights emerge nearly every other paragraph. Long story short - and seriously there is so much more to say, but that's for my later review - don't miss this one. —Emily, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

From the New York Times best-selling author of Rules of Civility, a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel.

With his breakout debut novel, Rules of Civility, Amor Towles established himself as a master of absorbing, sophisticated fiction, bringing late 1930s Manhattan to life with splendid atmosphere and a flawless command of style. Listeners and critics were enchanted; as NPR commented, "Towles writes with grace and verve about the mores and manners of a society on the cusp of radical change".

A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel's doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count's endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

©2016 Amor Towles (P)2016 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"The book moves briskly from one crisp scene to the next, and ultimately casts a spell as captivating as Rules of Civility, a book that inhales you into its seductively Gatsby-esque universe." (Town & Country)
"A gifted narrator, Nicholas Guy Smith captures scene and character with expressive shadings of voice and tone - a master performance that engages the listener from the start and illuminates Towles's telling prose and subtle dialogue. In a season of outstanding novels, this one stands out." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Jon K. Rust
  • Cape Girardeau, Mo United States
  • 07-24-17

Brilliant, heartfelt, inspiring

The prose is elegant, the performance masterful, and the wisdom of the words something to consider, reconsider and cherish. But I will admit, when I first started listening, I had no idea where the story was going -- nor any idea of where its main character and his friends would take me. I'm so glad I persevered through the first hour, because it's turned out to be the best book I've "read" or listened to in decades -- and I read a lot. For those who like to savor life, it is a must read.

36 of 38 people found this review helpful

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Leisurely, literary, and wonderful

This is the kind of book that leaves me with a "book hangover", and that's just about the highest praise I can give. It's one of those totally immersive stories that pulls the reader /listener into its world and characters. This book is a delight, beautifully written and perfectly narrated by Nicholas Guy Smith. I wish I could dine with gentleman Alexander Rostov !

29 of 31 people found this review helpful

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A Memory of a Time of Civility

Would you listen to A Gentleman in Moscow again? Why?

From the first dramatic opening of A Gentleman in Moscow when Count Rostov is sentenced to house arrest in the fabulous Metropole Hotel, we are introduced to a time when language mattered, people spoke to each other in civil terms, and fine art, music, and literature were important. Through each scene we live with the count as he actually EXPERIENCES time--not simply moving through it to get to the next moment--but living each sense--the taste of food, the emotion of a piece of music, the deep ideas of literature and philosophy through which he views his world. He promises himself at the start of his unique arrest that he will not have events make him, rather, he will make the events of his life and so rule in the time he has. One wonders at the beginning how a man will Iive in a hotel without stepping from it. The author, Amor Towels, takes the reader day by day through the creation of a world that is narrow, but full and rich. In fact, although most of us have freedom of movement, there is little that we have in our lives that Rostov does not find in the hotel--and perhaps more. The reading by Nicholas Guy Smith is absolutely superb, catching every nuance of the author--the character's dignity, his questions of life, his search for the Russian soul, the importance of the friendships in his life, his concerns and fears. I never wanted this story to end, because when reading it, I felt the slowed down moments of my own life, with all the simple pleasures we take for granted.

88 of 99 people found this review helpful

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A vacation for your mind!

I was looking for a book to take my mind off of all the stress of the news. This book was perfect! I was so sad to have it end. It immediately relaxed me..held my attention and had me smiling through out. I can't recommend it more highly!

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Too short!

This story did what I have longed for. Finally a story to transport and engage.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • W. Brooks
  • Seattle, WA United States
  • 02-14-17

Beautifully written, unusual "plot"

Ok Plot smot. Doesn't have one in the traditional sense. The plot is the setting. You're probably scratching your head saying, "Huh?" Here's a capsule of the plot: Russian count sentenced to spend the rest of his life in a glorious Moscow hotel. If he leaves, he will be shot. But what a life he leads. Enough said about that.

Kudos to author Amor Towles. This book is beautifully written. And the main character grows in wisdom through the years (hopefully, we all do). The Count has well developed relationships, some short, but others lifelong. He's a good man who always would see a glass half full, so the years in the hotel are a blessing, not a curse. There is wisdom in this book, if you listen for it.'

Nicholas Guy Smith does a first-rate job with the narration.

Did I mention that I liked this book so much that I listened to it twice? I rarely do that.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Loved it!

A stay at the Metropol is now on my bucket list!
I loved the detail in which he describes the characters and events and when the book was finished I found myself looking up places and things and rewatchig Casablanca .

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • GW
  • Langhorne, PA United States
  • 05-12-17

Like a perfect 7-course dinner

Engaging, flowing, very enjoyable BECAUSE of its slower pace. And a perfect narrator. One of the best audiobooks I heard in recent years.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Best Book This Year

If you could sum up A Gentleman in Moscow in three words, what would they be?

Masterful, Charming, Engrossing

What other book might you compare A Gentleman in Moscow to and why?

I can't think of any. Having said that, one of the best things in this book is the way that the characterization, which is rich, drives an excellent plot. I loved the characters and I miss them now that the book is behind me. This book makes excellent points about Soviet Russia, without preaching anything at all.

Which scene was your favorite?

There are so many terrific scenes that this is impossible to say, especially if one does not wish to give anything important away. The ending is magnificent, but how terrible to describe it and ruin the book for others! The Count's relationship with his young friend yields some real amusement in several scenes, in particular the one in which she comes up to him in the hotel restaurant and asks him what became of his mustaches. This is the beginning of a beautifully drawn relationship. A scene in which the child is testing Newton's theory of gravity remains in the mind's eye. There are many scenes that are visually appealing, in addition to being clever and spinning the plot along nicely. If this isn't made into a movie, I cannot imagine why. There is so much in this that is tailor made for cinematic treatment.

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

Impossible. It is much too long, BUT yes I wanted to just keep listening rather than attending to things...

Any additional comments?

Loved it. At the end, I went back and listened to the beginning and found myself thinking, "Ah!!" I really could have listened to the whole thing again! There were so many nuances and there was such depth of detail that revealed itself when I listened again. What a great book!

47 of 56 people found this review helpful

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An Overly Gentle Story

The narration for this book was beautifully done with great inflection, timing and good definition between the characters. It made it possible for me to complete 18 hours of listening to what in the end was a slow and plodding story.

To me, this book fit far more clearly into the romance fiction genre than a firmer historic fiction genre. The writing while good was so gently done that I fear much of the drama, violence and history of the time were lost in the storytelling.

Be aware, if you are looking for action, an accurate capture of historic events and an edge of your seat pace you won't find it here. Rather, what you will find is history by candle light--filtered through a gauze made up of an elegant hotel, vintage wine and gourmet dining--night after night after night. Very little will disturb or distress a gentle listener. At the same time very little will enlighten and expand the listener's understanding of the Russian Revolution and its aftermath into the Soviet Era.

I have to admit that while being beguiled by the narration I was at the same time disappointed by the feeling of fantasy and unreality of it all. Really, in the end, it was history lite with most of the nasty bits removed. Recommended only if you like gentle stories that please, but rest ever so lightly on fact, probability and history.

74 of 90 people found this review helpful