Review: A Gentleman In Moscow

A Gentleman in MoscowA Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Count Alexander Rostov is in the wrong place at the right time (or vice versa) at the beginning of the Russian Revolution. Saved from internment in Siberia or, more likely, death, a poem written in praise of soviet ideals has earned him a more comfortable prison – the Metropol Hotel in Moscow. For the course of some thirty years with only one extreme exception, Rostov, a “former person,” does not step outside the hotel. A rare combination of intelligent, wise, and kind, Rostov is the epitome of the perfect gentleman. In spite of one small lapse, he remains optimistic and self-reliant. And though the novel takes place almost completely within the walls of the Metropol, adventures and intrigue abound.

This is the best book I’ve read in recent memory – recent meaning probably ten years or more. The language is brilliant and beautiful. The characters are believable and delightful. I loved the enlightening footnotes giving insight to things going on behind the scenes. I can’t think of a single thing that bothered me as I read, and that’s saying something! I can’t help thinking Mr. Towles must have drawn deeply on his own character to write Rostov, as there is such a light but unerring touch to his prose. In fact, though it took a long time for me to finish the book, that’s because I have so little time to read, not because I was reluctant to continue. Reading this novel was completely enjoyable. It will have a permanent place on my shelves and I will return to it when I need a guaranteed great read. I had started Rules of Civility and was enjoying it before stopping to read Gentleman (as it was a book club read). So it is waiting in the wings. But I’m going to save it for a little while, like a treat saved for a special occasion. When I’m in need of another guaranteed good read, I will turn to it.

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