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A Gentleman in Moscow

Towles, Amor. Book - 2016 Adult Book / Fiction / Historical / Towles, Amor, Fiction / Towles, Amor None on shelf 9 requests on 10 copies Community Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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""In all ways a great novel, a nonstop pleasure brimming with charm, personal wisdom, and philosophic insight. This book more than fulfills the promise of Towles' stylish debut, Rules of Civility." - Kirkus Reviews (starred) From the New York Times bestselling 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. Readers 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"-- Provided by publisher.


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Absolutely stunning submitted by Susan4Pax -prev. sueij- on July 23, 2017, 3:38pm What a glorious book. Starting in 1922 Moscow, a Russian aristocrat is sentenced to live out his life in the Metropol hotel. Banished to a small room in the attic, he needs to reconfigure his life to fit the new constraints.

The novel is slow and thoughtful, with language that is beautiful and precise. Sometimes this means that the story moves more slowly than it might have in the first half, but I thought that it built the sense of time and place in ways that brought me into the Count's world. Then, when the action of the story picked up with Nina and Sofia, I was so thoroughly enmeshed in the Metropol and its cast of characters that I felt like I lived there myself.

Absolutely stunning. This goes down as a favorite.

Moved very slowly submitted by smgop on August 2, 2017, 7:30pm I really wanted to love this book, but it moved so slowly I often woke up after having falling asleep reading it!

Enjoyable Quick Read submitted by alperinj on June 22, 2018, 5:04pm This novel was excellent for a rainy day. A very creative view of a broad time period in Russia. Well worth the read.

Charming submitted by thartj on July 8, 2018, 3:48pm Count Alexander Rostov, in 1918, returns from Paris where he helped his grandmother to flee after the Bolshevic Revolution. It is never quite clear why he decides to return. As a member of the nobility he would normally be executed, but a poem he wrote in his youth that goes well with the everyman theme saves his life. Instead he is sentenced to life in the Metropol Hotel.

And there begins the story... life inside a single building and a man making the best of this downward turn in his prospects. And make the best he does. He shows great adaptability, ingenuity and character. Count Rostov is extremely likable and the other characters are interesting, often charming, and fill this tale that on the surface sounds like it just shouldn't be all that interesting. But it is so beautifully told it was a joy to read. The only reason I have given four instead of five stars is it was rather lean on plot.

A Delightful Read submitted by deliciouspi31415 on June 20, 2019, 9:51am This was a delightful read all the way through. Spanning 30+ years of Russian history and culture, this book shows you the world through the eyes of an aristocrat imprisoned in a world-class hotel during the Communist revolution. The characters are real and lovable, and the writing is exquisite. I found myself slowing down to savor every word, and re-reading particularly well-crafted sentences. This is a book about how, in the words of the Count, sometimes life sneaks up on you without you expecting it.

You'll want to savor this book submitted by eileen on June 29, 2019, 4:13pm This book was such a pleasure to read, with little stories and vignettes over the passage of time. It is a wandering journey with delightful detail, sophisticated humor, and masterful writing. The author, Amor Towles, has said this story is written in a diamond pattern, where the beginning of the plot opens up to a broad storyline and then narrows down in the end. It is such a fun tale that is hard to put down, but can easily be read in small bites. Also check out his first novel, Rules of Civility. Brilliant as well.

Dreadful and overhyped historical fantasy, not historical fiction submitted by MH17 on July 14, 2019, 4:07pm A naive and grating exercise in historical fantasy, this overlong, tiresome novel has a very loose grip on the historical time and place of its setting and a looser grip on narrative, with its adherence to an irritatingly sitcom-like vignette style that trades in an accumulation of winking, clever moments rather than anything substantial or shaped toward satisfying, meaningful resolution. And it will simply not let up. This book is 400+ pages of simpering, precious, cloying characterization that leaves the reader glutted, the literary equivalent of spraying two cans of Redi-whip into your mouth at the same time. Why did I finish this book. I don' t know. It was a birthday gift from someone I love. The count is a caricature, the children caricatures, the "nemesis" a caricature and not a single aspect of this book rings true, if you know your early Soviet history. Case in point: Moscow in the time of the Great Patriotic War and after was positively abysmal, even in its best quarters; it was not the fairyland of this book. So the head chef at the hotel has some minor trouble procuring a few gourmet items and must improvise--heaven forfend! In the real world in the time and place this novel is set, people were starving, dying, pulling up stakes for Siberia and this book is preoccupied with the winsome misadventures of some preposterous dandy in a ridiculous state-enforced single-hotel exile that would only exist in the insipid candyland of this author's imagination. Nope. Svetlana Alexievich, anything by Svetlana Alexievich, before this book.

Good summer read submitted by thegretch on July 16, 2019, 10:11pm I enjoyed this book. The characters have depth. Starts out slow but keep going and I think you will enjoy it.

Pleasant but slow read submitted by jaromatorio on July 22, 2019, 11:54am This book is beautifully written, but there’s not much of a plot-it’s more focused on the daily life and encounters of one man living in a hotel in Moscow over the course of years. The characters were well developed, but I found myself bored by the lack of a story arc at times.

Unexpectedly enjoyable submitted by KathyD on August 25, 2019, 5:19pm Not something I'd usually read, but enjoyed the story of a man subjected to house arrest in a Russian hotel for thirty years. Interesting characters cycle through his life.

Gentleman submitted by Clown81 on August 31, 2019, 5:11pm Not in Russia.

Woah! submitted by ann arbor air on June 11, 2021, 7:13pm I got to learn about the history of communism

Communism submitted by adr0202 on June 11, 2021, 7:21pm You can learn about communism

Beautiful submitted by emjane on June 14, 2021, 5:58pm Though not particularly plot driven, A Gentleman in Moscow immerses you in its world. Not my usual preference, but I absolutely loved it.

You know you enjoyed the book if you keep thinking about it... submitted by gindacu on July 15, 2021, 8:50pm What book should I about a book I read two years ago! It was brilliant and immersive and I keep searching for books like it to read. It's definitely in my top 5 books of all time.

Loved it submitted by mandevil on December 30, 2021, 12:32pm The work of a creative genius

amazing submitted by dhrustar on June 21, 2022, 4:46pm a beautiful book

Wonderful submitted by hjzechar on July 15, 2022, 3:47pm Rich, humorous, and uplifting

awesome submitted by graytabby on August 7, 2022, 8:11pm perfectly un-put-down-able!

very slow read but so beautiful submitted by leah karr on August 19, 2022, 6:21pm The pictures painted in my mind are still there and still make me smile, but my oh took a long time to read this one!

One of my favorite books submitted by tbabbitt on June 9, 2023, 3:47pm The story moves rather slowly but the book is excellent for a rainy day or a relaxing vacation. My favorite book by Amor Towles.

Favorite book of the year submitted by A2AE on June 13, 2023, 2:03pm This is a lovely book, and if you find it slow I highly recommend the audiobook. The narrator is perfectly suited for the suave, sophisticated, gentlemanly narrator.

A Gentleman in Moscow submitted by leighsprauer on July 29, 2023, 9:08am Ugh, this book. It could have been good. The plot is good: a former Russian aristocrat - Alexander Rostov - is sentenced to death, but is given a reprieve. Instead, he becomes a Former Person, and is put under house arrest, to live out his life in the Metropol hotel in Moscow, where he had been living at the time of his arrest. The book follows the next 4 or so decades of his life, as he adjusts to his sentence. Towles does a good job of moving the plot along well: there is plenty of action and unexpected twists, and Towles introduces several interesting characters, although the character development is lacking.
Towles also seems to have a decent grasp on Russian politics in the first half of the 20th century. (It's interesting that he chose the name Rostov; Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn studied at Rostov State University. I can't help but wonder if Towles was influenced by Solzhenitsyn.) He captures, without going into too much depth, both the absurdity and the horror of communism, and the anxiety felt by everyone under it. It's not a full picture, by any means, but it's an introduction.
But, despite all this, I only gave it 3 stars. The writing is just awful. Maybe Towles is trying to imitate the flowery, aloof, and overwrought language of Rostov's class, but it's really annoying. You get the feeling that when Towles was in 7th grade he got a thesaurus for Christmas, and he really ran with it. Look, I like words. Words are my favorite. But the way that Towles uses them detracts from the story instead of serving it. An example is his use of the phrase 'girl with the penchant for yellow' to describe Nina. Used once, it would have been okay. But in repetition, you can't help but picture Towles laughing in French every time. (And speaking of Nina, what the heck's the deal with a grown man developing a friendship with a 10 year old girl, and traipsing about the hotel with her? Weird.) As the book went on, the writing became more bearable, but I couldn't tell if that was because I was just used to it, because Towles had gotten lazy, or because he made a conscious decision to simplify the writing as Rostov became more of a 'commoner'. If it's the latter, then I'll give him a bit more credit. But I'm not willing to re-read it to find out. It was too agonizing.

One of my favorites submitted by Lea on August 17, 2023, 12:41pm Beautifully written and crafted story! This one stays with you.

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New York : Viking, [2016]
Year Published: 2016
Description: 462 pages : illustration ; 24 cm.
Language: English
Format: Book


Aristocracy (Social class) -- Fiction.
Home detention -- Fiction.
Interpersonal relations -- Fiction.
Hotels -- Russia -- Fiction.
Moscow (Russia) -- History -- Fiction.
Historical fiction.