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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

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Hats off to Towels and Lowman!

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

Part of the reason I enjoyed this book so much was because of the incredible narration by Rebecca Lowman. She has the perfect voice to fit the character Katey Kontent, and executes all the other characters really well. Lowman is my new favorite narrator.

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

This is a beautifully written story. Towels tells the tales with a lyrical and poetic style reminiscent of Steinbeck, of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Every chapter dances along in perfect rhythm.

What about Rebecca Lowman’s performance did you like?

I very much enjoyed the story and highly recommend it, but Rebecca Lowman's performance took the novel from great to outstanding.

Any additional comments?

If you're looking for a good listen, this is it! The story takes one back to a nostalgic time in New York City. It's a wonderful coming age novel about love, friendship, heartbreak and self realization and fulfillment of one's own potential as well of that of others.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Boring

It was a book no depth. No plot and no ending waste of 9 hours .

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Trite

Compared to Gentleman in Moscow, I found this story boring. Narration was very good, but the story did not hold my interest

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A little slow in the middle

The beginning of the story was excellent, the writing style was beautiful... then the story slowed way down through the middle begore picking back up near the end. This is one of the few stories I would listen to a second time though. I will be picking up more stories by this author in the future.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • S. Arce
  • Ojai, CA United States
  • 05-20-17

Not much substance here

I found this book to be boring and generally without merit. I was not interested in what might come next. The narration was very well done however. The problem is that the characters and plot seemed contrived and of little relevance. Compared to the other books I've been listening to, this one missed the mark. I was eager for it to end and that has not been the case very often.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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

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  • KP
  • United States
  • 06-17-13

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

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Wonderfully read and a beautiful story.

I loved the narration of this book. The reader's voice was perfect, mature but with the tinge of youth that comes with reminiscence. The story was evocative of its era and place: Manhattan at the end of the Great Depression and just before war, struggling young people amidst the glamour and affluence of New York's society. A lovely novel, beautifully presented.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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AMAZING Narrator

Any additional comments?

i loved this audio book - but what made it especially great was the narrator. i've listened to over 100 books and this narrator ranks up there with the top five. she nailed every charactor.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Eoin
  • Kilcullen, Ireland
  • 07-12-12

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