Tuesday, January 09, 2018
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles is, as I may have already mentioned, a book I resisted reading because I tend to dislike a Russian setting. I don't know why that is and I do, at times, manage to overcome my resistance but it's a strong one. A selection for discussion in my F2F group, the book was only available in hardback (another thing I try to avoid) so I just decided not to buy it. And, then I missed the meeting. When I was told that the book is "delightful" I was kind of surprised. That was not a word I expected. What did I expect? Oh, probably a lot of dark, dreary scenes with grumpy people stabbing each other in the back . . . in the rain.
The reality of A Gentleman in Moscow could not possibly have been more of a contrast to my expectations. After the Russian Revolution, Count Alexander Rostov is lucky not to have already been killed or put in prison, but being a part of the aristocracy is still a problem. Put under house arrest in 1922 and told he'll be shot if he sets foot outside the Metropol Hotel in Moscow, A Gentleman in Moscow tells the story of the count's decades-long imprisonment, how he survives the passage of time, changes to the hotel and to Russia, and the many friendships he makes over the years.
I adored Count Alexander: his wit, charm, and sense of humor, his relationships, his young friend Nina's boldness and curiosity, the transformation of the Count's life over the decades, the characters in the hotel, and even the way he managed to transform his tiny living quarters. I also loved the fact that there was a character to have fun hating (including a surprising twist in which he gets what's coming to him). A few of my favorite scenes will probably stay with me forever. A couple of them brought tears to my eyes.
Highly, highly recommended to anyone and everyone - Absolutely the most charming, engaging, delightful, smart, funny, magical book I read in 2017.
Definitely should have bought a copy (I'll certainly want to reread it, someday) and I'm very grateful that my friend Linda said, "You really need to read this."
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