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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

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  •  
    Victoria 11-06-15
    Victoria 11-06-15

    Writer and editor in NYC. Book lover and avid reader. Crazy about my dog. Philobiblian is my new favorite word. I tweet at @victoriareads

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    22
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    "Loved everything about this."
    What did you like best about this story?

    The story is beautiful. I loved the sense of history, the way the characters surprised me along the way, and the protagonist. All-in-all, a really great book.


    What about Rebecca Lowman’s performance did you like?

    Rebecca Lowman is absolutely wonderful! Her inflections and subtleties really made this a great book to listen to. She was perfect for this book, too.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara 10-22-15
    Barbara 10-22-15 Member Since 2017
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    "A joy to listen to"

    An enjoyable story that was well paced and engaging. Beautiful, descriptive language, without being overdone.
    Loved this narrator, too. Nicely done.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Lynn Smith 09-22-15
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    "My favorite book"

    I listened to this book back in 2012 for the first time. It became my favorite book and I wish Towles had more to write. I've read it 3 times in all. I could gush all about it but I will just say that this story finds you right where you are and shows you just what you needed, just in time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jane 09-08-15
    Jane 09-08-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Terrific"

    This is a terrific novel that tracks the journey through one year in the life of a smart, clever young New York woman at the vantage point of her older self, the narrator. The year is 1938 and the journey is a long and winding one, but rewarding and entertaining in equal parts. Fabulous narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Hirsch Denver, CO 08-30-15
    Mary Hirsch Denver, CO 08-30-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Nicely done, if wandering tale"
    Any additional comments?

    Nicely done for a period piece, with no great epiphanies. Lyrical writing was complimented by a smooth, cultured, millenial-ish reader's voice that well reflected the early 20's age and refinement of the main character.<br/><br/>A touch of The Great Gatsby and perhaps even Henry James. The novel relishes the opulence of the social era while ignoring the historical context. <br/><br/>Perhaps the wandering story is intended to reflect the style of writing of the pre-WW II period in which it is set. But while it finally arrives at a conclusion (honestly I nearly gave up), it is only after becoming painfully stuck, again and again, for tiresome interludes before the characters reluctantly trudge forward with their lives.<br/><br/>This is the story of the shallow life of a dedicated social climber who leaves her immigrant parentage behind without a trace to firmly attach to the 1%. It seems that one can pursue the good life with barely any awareness at all of Europe falling into ruins or the other headlines that were changing the direction of the society and the country.<br/><br/>In fact, George Washington himself (collector of the "rules of civility" found in his papers and at the end of this book) was a noted climber who quit the British Army after a distinguished career because the class system would never allow a colonial to become a general. And right he was to do so, as the new colonial revolutionary army gave him all the field one could desire for a generalship.<br/><br/>When, at the end, the main character summarizes her own great accomplishment of re-inventing herself, nothing had been learned that was news to me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah 08-17-15
    Sarah 08-17-15
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    "A Beautifully Told Tale"

    I loved this book. It surprised me--the plot winds and turns mimicking life rather than fiction yet still genially leading the reader by the hand to a satisfying conclusion.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    blake Fort Lee, NJ, United States 08-04-15
    blake Fort Lee, NJ, United States 08-04-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Smug main character in a well told tale."

    If you accept that you're also supposed to be one of the many who line up to fall in love with Kate you'll make it through this book just fine. I don't believe the author expected her to come across as slightly too beautiful, poised and unflappable, but there it is - and the unerringly apropos quotes from the great literary canonwon't make anyone give an eye roll in the direction of our Kate at all.
    Make it past this, however, and you will be richly rewarded. In no short order the story is nuanced and poignant, the prose is nearly flawless and evocatively simple - like a perfect strand of pearls paired with a little black dress and the narrator is at the top of her game. That is why you will find yourself comfortably drawn into the Great Gatsbyesque embrace of this book - rear view mirror vignette building at its finest.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura 08-04-15
    Laura 08-04-15 Member Since 2015
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    "A Great Listen!"
    Would you listen to Rules of Civility again? Why?

    Yes, I enjoyed the story and the narration. The story kept me entertained and wanting to listen to more.


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

    The characters were well developed, so I enjoyed the whole book.


    What about Rebecca Lowman’s performance did you like?

    Everything. I really enjoyed listening to her narrate this novel. I will be looking for more read by her.


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

    Title works fine as it


    Any additional comments?

    I wish this author had many more books.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan Moorehouse 08-01-15

    Jan

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    "Rich and engaging"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Rules of Civility to be better than the print version?

    Having not read the print version, I can only say that the audio version of Rules of Civility is outstanding. I cannot imagine how the print version could be better. The narrator's voice is perfect for a mature Kate, reflecting after many years....


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I thought Kate was fascinating: intelligent, evolving, reflective, irreverent--admirable.


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

    Rebecca Lowman's voice is so very finely tuned. She reads without flourish but with the perfect soupcon of irony and humor. Her voice is warm: she does not seem anything but wise, reflecting back on the years and a time--and people--long gone.


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

    Forgive our Youth


    Any additional comments?

    I was tasked with weeding our garden this past week, and I can say that least favorite task was a delight this time because the book I was listening to took my mind off the boredom of the task.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emily 07-31-15
    Emily 07-31-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Content and satisfied with Towles"

    Beautifully written. A philosophical stroll through a Rockwell painting. Towels brings a long forgotten New York back to life with all the vibrancy it deserves. I could listen to it again and again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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