A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
3 words: gracious, engaging, triumphant
I was pretty sure I’d love this book, given the way I felt about Amor Towles’s debut novel, The Rules of Civility. And then when I heard him speak about this new novel at BEA, that completely clinched it. (And I spoke to him, and he was gracious!)
So when I actually started reading, it shouldn’t have surprised me — but did — that I loved it so very much.
And all of these things happened despite the fact that I don’t like novels set in Russia. And I don’t like novels of political imprisonment. And I’m not all that very much into historical fiction, though I wish I were.
And this book is all of those things, but it won me over almost immediately.
Here’s how it did it…
Count Alexander Rostov is the central figure in this book, and the dude is witty, cultured, good-humored, and positive to a degree that’s seriously impressive. If there’s anyone on earth who would not like this man, I hope I never meet that person. So we have a delightful main character whose charm and humor and approach to life create an atmosphere that’s like breathing fresh air.
Then you plunk him down in a luxury hotel in Moscow, where he’s been ordered to live out his days. In a tiny attic room. And so it begins… this story of a man whose life has been turned into a miniaturized version of itself, who responds by expanding his world within those hotel walls and creating a family from those who work and stay there.
And then there’s the author’s writing style, which perfectly matches its subject. It’s sophisticated and wry and urbane and witty, and it’s smooth and smart and polished, and it makes a person feel very comfortable. The author is like a fine host who caters to his guests. I read most of this book on the flight home from Reykjavik, and I truly felt like I was soaring.
So now I’m doing that thing, where I dart around telling everyone about this book. (If I see you in person, prepare yourself. This book’s coming up in conversation.)
Fellow readers… what book are you pushing these days?