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Editorial 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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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Irritating Narrator / Uninteresting Characters

It's the 1930s in New York. Young, pretty girls with ambition and no money meet rich guys. Bad things happen to careless, superficial people, thinly drawn. Nobody's happy. Eventually, everybody moves on. The end. Might have been saved by decent narration, but we'll never know.

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I could not stop listening

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would strongly recommend this book. I have not enjoyed another book as much for years. The narration is excellent, the prose is absorbing and the characters and their challenges will stay with you for a long time. This is one of the very few books I would listen to a second time.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Tinker

If you could take any character from Rules of Civility out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Katia to discuss her favorite books and how reading helped her navigate coming of age in the social world of New York after the depression

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Not what I expected after A Gentleman in Moscow

dissatisfied with narrator, storyline is random at best, it doesn't look like the main character can make intelligent choices ito work or relationships, goes from bad to worse. in fact it lacks the gentle insight and delicate handling of relationships as in A Gentleman in Moscow. doesn't seem to be the same author, or can a narrator influence an authors tone and inclination so much?

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Wonderful & profound!

Rebecca Lowman is the perfect voice for this tale of life in New York in the 30's or so. Like seeing the city through my parents eyes as we so often heard from their stories being drivien around Manhattan as children. Lovely and harsh at the same time.

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  • Susan
  • Winnipeg, MB, Canada
  • 10-01-16

Excellent!!!

I loved listening to this book. It was a real treat. Rebecca Lowman totally was a great narrator for this book. I can't wait to get Amor Towles next book. I loved this author's writing style, language and characters. He truly captured the New York 30's. The story was interesting with well developed characters. I highly recommend this book to other readers.

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Awesome!

This book takes you to another time but in a way that doesn't seem theatrical or unrealistic. The performance was wonderful and the storyline full of interesting characters. Certainly worth your time.

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My favourite book

Having heard this when Sirius XM had the book channel I decided to start from the beginning. This is now my favourite book. I listen to it when I'm on the road for work or driving for travel. Love this and the narrator is awesome

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Excellent

This was a really great audiobook. My primary critique is that the main character / narrator could have been more developed. It was unclear how she seamlessly went from the Russian immigrant working class to hanging out with upper class people her age. My personal perspective is that that going from one extreme to the other is somewhat of an anomaly warranting further explanation.

Another thing that irked me a little was the overzealous use of idiomatic phrases like "it's a Cracker Jack day!" And "Off with your head!" My mom who was born about 13 years after the book takes place (the book takes place in 1938) said that those kinds of figures of speech were common back then because life was simpler and people were less cynical. Still, I feel like it would have been better if the phrases and idioms were sprinkled more sparingly because I found them a bit disruptive to the narrative. Otherwise though, it was a great listen!!

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Particularly great story to listen to

Loved this story and this performance. Some books may be better enjoyed aloud and this is one of them. Similarly, White Oleander was a pleasure to listen to. The performer had the perfect inflection and tone for the main character. The story was interesting and timeless.

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I loved this book. it was a great insight to the t

beautifully written and expertly performed it was a beautiful story of love and loss in the early 20th century.