A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel

by Amor Towles

Hardcover, 2016

Call number

FICT TOW

Collection

Genres

Publication

Viking (2016), Edition: 1, 480 pages

Description

"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..."--

Media reviews

Booklist
Booklist July 1, 2016 In his remarkable first novel, the best-selling Rules of Civility (2011), Towles etched 1930s New York in crystalline relief. Though set a world away in Moscow over the course of three decades, his latest polished literary foray into a bygone era is just as impressive. Sentenced as an incorrigible aristocrat in 1922 by the Bolsheviks to a life of house arrest in a grand Moscow hotel, Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is spared the firing squad on the basis of a revolutionary poem he penned as an idealistic youth. Condemned, instead, to live his life confined to the indoor parameters of Metropol Hotel, he eschews bitterness in favor of committing himself to practicalities. As he carves out a new existence for himself in his shabby attic room and within the magnificent walls of the hotel-at-large, his conduct, his resolve, and his commitment to his home and to the hotel guests and staff together form a triumph of the human spirit. As Moscow undergoes vast political changes and countless social upheavals, Rostov remains, implacably and unceasingly, a gentleman. Towles presents an imaginative and unforgettable historical portrait.--Flanagan, Margaret Copyright 2016 Booklist

User reviews

LibraryThing member msf59
“Fate would not have the reputation it has, if it simply did what it seemed it would do.”

“If patience wasn’t so easily tested, then it would hardly be a virtue...”

In 1922, at thirty years of age, Count Alexander Rostov, is placed under house arrest, for being a unrepentant aristocrat. He is to spend the next thirty years at the Metropol, a grand hotel, across the street from the Kremlin. This wonderful, beautifully written novel, chronicles the count's life, over these decades, inside this enclosed interior. As history unfolds outside, life remains insulated, although the Count learns to evolve with the times, in quiet, subtle ways.
I am going to be vague on the details of this story, so the reader may experience it, the way I did, with glorious ignorance, but there is so much to admire, between these pages but the biggest joy is seeing this world, through the eyes of the Count, one of the best fictional characters, I have ever encountered and it sure helps, that the Count is an obsessive reader, which we can all relate to.
… (more)
LibraryThing member stellarexplorer
I’m not sure when I last read a book as delightful and smart as this one. Count Alexander Rostov, cultured young gentleman of the old Russian aristocracy, has run afoul of the new Soviet regime, and is sentenced to live under permanent house arrest in Moscow’s Hotel Metropol. And so ends the unfettered period in a formerly vigorous and expansive life. A novel that takes place almost entirely within one structure, however grand and intricate, might feel claustrophobic. Anything but! For the Count is a reservoir of deep inner strength, of manners, of commitment to an identity, and every page crackles with the authenticity of his personhood.

The writing here is impeccable. Many times I was tempted to turn to those around me to read a particularly enchanting passage. It was hard to do so, because such lines are the fulfillment of a chain of description and preparation, of which the felicitous ending is but the fitting culmination. The prose is charming, concise, unadorned, and elegant.

This is a book of sublime miniatures: A sister’s silver scissors fashioned in the shape of an egret has a golden screw at the pivot representing an eye. And immense ideas as well. The vastness of inner life confronts the constraint of the external. Enduring values are set against the inevitability of change. Tolstoy’s view of history gurgles always in the background, as the reader grapples with the relationship of individual action with the impenetrable play of events.

I laughed, I cried and I called out in appreciative satisfaction. Loose ends duly tied up, with interest. A banquet served in words, best savored slowly. This is everything a book should be. Run, don’t walk.
… (more)
LibraryThing member tangledthread
I had a hard time getting into this book at the beginning, but as it progressed I became more engaged in the story and the many sub-stories within the book.

Resourceful 32 y.o. Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is sentenced to house arrest in the elegant Moscow Metropol Hotel and his residence is moved from a second floor luxury suite to the 6th floor belfry in 1922. His crime: being born into the Tsarist aristocracy. As Stalin's grip clenches Russia, the Count, after a bout of depression, goes about setting up a life within the confines of the Metropol. Nine year old Nina, who is also temporarily confined to the hotel, provides the key(s) that release him from depression and provides him with all he needs to create a world within the Metropol.

If one is confined, then one must set about establishing means to acquire life's essentials: food, beverage, clothing, meaningful work, and love. Alexander finds all of these things within the Metropol. He establishes relationships with the chef, the bar tender, the seamstress, a returning actress, and adult Nina returns to leave her daughter, Sophia, with the the Count.

There are many small stories within the larger story that enhance the entertainment value of the novel. There is a clandestine assembling of a secret midnight meal in the middle of the siege on Moscow during WWII. There is ongoing relationship with Soviet General Osip in which the Count mentors him in the underpinnings of western culture. That relationship turns to the Count's advantage in the end. There are several other entertaining sub-stories embedded in the book, which I found delightful.

The book is structured almost like Russian nesting dolls: time is condensed in the first and last part of the book, while the time periods between chapters expand outward in the center of the book, which is the time covering the Great Depression and WWII.

The author has done a great job of putting together a thought provoking, multilayered story, that requires a bit of suspension of disbelief.
… (more)
LibraryThing member lit_chick
2016, Penguin Audio, Read by Nicholas Guy Smith

Publisher’s Summary: adapted from Audible.com
A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in an 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.

My Review:
“… if a man does not master his circumstances then he is bound to be mastered by them.” (18)

The Count’s elegant, impeccable manners and his distinguished diplomacy are a delight. And the novel’s numerous and varied characters are the perfect companion to the his endeavour to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose. In one of my favourite scenes, Rostov is explaining to young Nina how we owe the generations that have come before us a debt of gratitude – not simply the grand dukes and grand duchesses, but elders of all social classes who have come before us:

“The principle here is that a new generation owes a measure of thanks to every member of the previous generation. Our elders planted fields and fought in wars; they advanced the arts and sciences, and generally made sacrifices on our behalf. So by their efforts, however humble, they have earned a measure of our gratitude and respect.” (50)

Beautifully written, and so memorable. I was reminded more than once of Chekov’s short story “The Bet,” in which, ironically, a man’s imprisonment leads to his discovering the true meaning of life. Narrator Nicholas Guy Smith is extraordinary! Highly recommended.
… (more)
LibraryThing member TimBazzett
Hey, this book has already gotten over 2,500 reader reviews at Amazon and is still in the top twenty books there, so what the hell more can I say? Count Alexander Rostov, a Russian nobleman,is arrested by the Soviet secret police in the 1920s, designated a "former person," and summarily sentenced to permanent house arrest in the grand Metropol Hotel in Moscow, where he spends the next thirty years. Strangely, it is a richly full life, one which provides him with all kinds of loyal friends and even, most unexpectedly, a family of sorts.

A Gentleman in Moscow is not at all what I had expected, and I'm glad. Because it is that delightful kind of literary surprise that simply enchants its readers. I'm not often "enchanted" by a book, crusty old fart that I consider myself, but this book had that kind of magic to it, all 460-plus pages. That's quite a hat trick. But I loved all of it. Bravo, Mr. Towles. And all those rave reviews? Well deserved. My highest recommendation.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER
… (more)
LibraryThing member Carmenere
"....several duly goateed officers of the current regime determined that for the crime of being born an aristocrat, I should be sentenced to spend the rest of my days....in this hotel." And so begins Count Alexander Rostov's peculiar/absurd punishment at the luxurious hotel Metropol in Moscow. A reader might think that a book of almost 500 pages recounting his day to day life in one building would be tedious, repetitive and dull. Not so! Rostov's imprisonment is anything but! In the early to mid 20th century, as the world outside the Metropol changes, the Count retains his aristocratic lifestyle while still befriending those from the working class. Intriguing, beautiful and beguiling guests of the hotel add spice to his life and there's never a reason for Rostov to be alone or listless. Author, Towles, delivers a masterful story. It's smart, it's well paced. The characters are lovable and there are some who are despicable. It is a marvelous read, one which should be savored and enjoyed.… (more)
LibraryThing member larryerick
Back in high school, one of my English teachers had us read a book by Nathaniel Hawthorne, which, as I recall, was The Scarlett Letter. When some of the students failed to go into rhapsody over it, she quickly informed us it was the perfect novel. I don't think any of us believed her, regardless of how much we may have tolerated having read the book. It didn't help that she never tried to explain to us why it was the perfect book, so... Up until now, I had no idea what she was talking about. This book may be the most beautifully crafted novel I have ever read. Is it new or exciting literature? Not really. One might go so far as to call it old fashioned. I thought back to Charles Dickens and George Eliot when I first started reading it. It has absolutely none of the flair of unreality that seems so popular now with the critics of modern fiction: Sanders' Lincoln in the Bardo, Whitehead's The Underground Railroad, Beatty's The Sellout, etc. On the other hand, this book has a consistently crafted and laid out narrative with a keenly distinguished set of characters throughout, all tied to together step by step with just enough new aspects and conflicts that the reader is rarely able to anticipate exactly what will happen next. Woven through out the book is commentary on communism, government in general, including bureaucracy and bureaucrats, and society's adjustments to whatever gets thrown its way. And yet, it never struck me as being the least bit preachy. Here's what people do, it would say, while letting the reader discover the judgments hidden in the string of words. Having said all this, I should acknowledge that this is one of those fairly rare times that I took the child's route to an adult book and listened to the audio book while reading along in the hardcover. An American writes a book about Russians and an Englishman reads it all to you. The audio narration was outstanding and a perfect complement to the words in the book.… (more)
LibraryThing member BDartnall
ount Alexander Rostov finds himself quickly becoming an anachronism in his own time: the Russian Revolution has resulted in a quickly changing political & societal landscape. Aristocrats and landed gentry families such as his are rapidly sinking in the rising tide of communist fervor and political change. In 1922, Rostov is found guilty by a Bolshevik tribunal (awkwardly, while he was a supporter of the pre-revolutionary efforts, noted by the committee, he continued to live as a gentleman, one of the 'leisure class' in a large suite at the Metropol Hotel). Rather than be sentenced somewhere in Siberia, the tribunal sentences him to indefinite house arrest: if he ever steps foot outside the Metropol Hotel, he will be arrested and shot. The Count is removed from his grand suite and takes up residence in some tiny garrett rooms near the belfry at the top floor of the hotel.
What in the world takes up the next 440 pages? How can one man's years sequestered in a Moscow hotel be that interesting or absorbing? Here is the genius of Amor Towles - to so completely inhabit the cheery, cosmopolitan character of Rostov: his viewpoints, his musings over his past years & the twists and turns of Russian history, his enjoyable and serendiptious friendships with hotel staff, with regular and irregular visitors to the Metropol, with a famous Russian actress, with a curious 13 yr old named Nina, a frequent longterm guest with her parents, with an American ambassador, an American military attache, & even a powerful Politboro apparatchik who requires monthly dinners with Rostov, for years, to educate him in the viewpoints of "the privileged classes", especially of French & English. His extended observations (on points of honor, of the pleasures of good wine/ well prepared food, the delights of both the Russian countryside and its customs as well as those of Moscow, & the ebb and flow of consequences and human nature, for ex) are not tiresome, but so entertaining I willingly went down any rabbit trail from the plot. Stylistic masterful, subtly insightful, with a quietly heroic gentleman of Moscow- the book requires unhurried time, but once you submerge, you'll be glad you did!
… (more)
LibraryThing member Clara53
A simply marvelous book: marvel of a plot and a distinctively uplifting writing style - mildly philosophical, but not overbearingly so. I have to say that the story simply tugged at my heart, without being melodramatic. The reader steps into the shoes of Count Rostov, a "Former person", an aristocrat, in those turbulent years after the Russian revolution and on, until 1954. What can be more inspiring than to find happiness in any circumstances, even under house arrest, to create a totally new life for oneself and not give your "prison guard" (KGB in this instance) the benefit of gloating over your circumstances that have changed so drastically with the change of government.... The character of Count Rostov reminds me in a way of another favorite protagonist - Erast Fandorin from Boris Akunin's novels (his ruminations, his sense of dignity, integrity and ethics have a similar feel...). A wonderful read.… (more)
LibraryThing member sblock
Where to begin. I am a better person for having read this book.
LibraryThing member EBT1002
Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is put under house arrest at a grand hotel in Moscow in 1922. This is the story of his life therein. The Count's life is peopled with a variety of engaging characters, exquisite wine and food, and all the usual travails of love and attachment. His heart is large, his capacity for joy and heartbreak consistent with his poet's soul. The story is wonderful. The writing is exceptional! I kept stopping to reread a sentence or two, relishing Towles' remarkable gift for putting a set of words together perfectly. This isn't stuffy, flowery prose. It is the finest application of the craft of writing. If I could give A Gentleman in Moscow more than five stars, I would not hesitate to do so.… (more)
LibraryThing member froxgirl
I flat out amor Amor Towles. I loved Rules of Civility and the followup e-story, but this might even be the better novel. The story itself - a White Russian count is sentenced to exile in the Metropol Hotel in Moscow (a real hotel, now in its 105th year!) when he returns from Paris during the Russian Revolution - is such a creative concept. But the execution is almost flawless, with the exception of perhaps a few too many characters. Count Alexander Rostov is everything one would want in a hero, and his family background, while privileged, does not seem to be excessively oppressive to the kulaks and peasants on the estate (although there is minimal information about this, so I judge only by his recollections). He is thoughtful, calm, and considerate of all whom he encounters in his limited hotel world. His flexibility extends to the Bolshevik regime, which is gently taunted by the count and the author.

From 1992, at age 30, until 1954, the count nurtures a talented young student, balances his old friends and the new authority, maintains a quirky romance with a passionate movie star, and eventually becomes the Head Waiter at the renowned Boyarsky Restaurant at the hotel.

The tale is told with such warmth and humor that we must forgive the author for going on a bit too long - it is to savor, like all the fine cuisine, drink, and loyal friendships that permeate this extraordinary novel.
… (more)
LibraryThing member eyes.2c
Spell binding! Elegant!

The superlatives reviewers have lavished on this novel are well deserved. This is an enthralling, all consuming window into life in Moscow from the pre 1920's through to the 1950's, from Stalin and the Bolsheviks through to Nikita Khrushchev.
We view the microcosm of what's happening in Russian history through the eyes of the man 'in the bubble' Count Alexander Rostov, who in 1922 was confined for life to the Metropol Hotel, across from the Kremlin, by a Bolshevik tribunal.
Mentored by his godfather and guardian, the Grand Duke Demidov, Alexander recalls the Grand Duke's words, 'if a man does not master his circumstances then he is bound to be mastered by them.' These words mark the way Alex moves forward.
How the sophisticated, urbane Count Alex handles his incarceration is wonderfully told. His acquaintances are like a panoply of stars spread out beneath Alex's new sky, the ceiling of the Metropol.
His meeting with, and continued relationship with the fascinating child Nina, the harsh realities of the changes in the politburo, the advancement of small minded individuals like the inept waiter the Bishop, contrasted to the kindliness of some of the more urbane true believers.
Of the many friends Alex makes amongst hotel staff four stand out; Andrey, the maître d’ of the Boyarsky Restaurant, Emile the chief, Vasily the concierge and Marina the hotel seamstress.
His world, in one fell swoop narrowed, is in reality enlarged through the people he becomes acquainted with. There are his friends from the past. The angst of his writer friend Mishka, an expert on Chekov. And not to be disregarded a new friend, the actress Anna Urbanova.
There's Nina the young girl who grows into a fervent young woman, typical of her generation committed to the communist ideals. Her fanatical absorption with change for the common good that at times prove disastrous reflecting the broad sweep of political, social and economic change that forgot to involve the people and it's way replaced one tyranny with another.
A startling set of circumstances give him Sofia, the child he was to mind for a month, the daughter he unexpectedly acquires. She brings light and meaning to his life.
Abram the handyman he encounters on the roof and from whom he learns the secrets of coffee and the miracle of the bees. A wonderful interlude that helps Alex retain his equilibrium.
And the others, Osip Ivanovich Glebnikov, a former colonel of the red army, a Party man who comes to Alex to be educated in understanding the privileged classes of those countries Russia wants to enter into economic and political discussions with. England, France and America...and how they view the world. The American psyche needed to be understood. For over fifteen years they read literature, discussed and watched films together. Their run down on Casablanca is superb.
A life lived within the confines of the hotel that Alex somehow ironically lived to the full, discovering new emotional truths, new revelations.
Layers within layers are revealed within the story like the Russian nesting dolls Alex at one time unwraps, layers of meaning and revelation that are just as painstakingly and beautifully crafted.
This novel is pure poetry, gift wrapped in vivid and taut prose.
An amazing read!

A NetGalley ARC
… (more)
LibraryThing member tloeffler
Count Alexander Rostov is put under house arrest in Moscow's Metropol Hotel in 1922 by the Bolshevik party. If he ever leaves the hotel, he will be shot. Rostov turns his attic room into a fairly comfortable living space, dines in the Boyarsky, eventually begins working there, and creates a life for himself in the confines of the hotel. When his path crosses with a young girl in the hotel, everything changes for him. The book takes Rostov from his incarceration to 1954.

Towle's writing is superb. The characters are vividly drawn, the mundane becomes interesting, and the history is fascinating. Well-researched, well-written, probably the book I have most enjoyed reading this year.
… (more)
LibraryThing member grandpahobo
Brilliant storytelling.
LibraryThing member deeEhmm
Look - make no mistake, this is a fairy tale novel about a gentleman who actually embodies what we all wish a gentleman should be, just as the fairy-tale kings and queens actually embody noble qualities. Still, its delightful humor, sometimes thrilling drama, and rich historical underpinnings make it a wonderful read. Born into the aristocracy pre-revolution in Russia, the hero is sentenced for life imprisonment in a luxury hotel located across the street from the Kremlin. And through this lens, his life and the life of his nation unfold in intriguing, somber, and wondrous detail. Enjoy this today, critique it intelligently tomorrow. I promise I will read your review.… (more)
LibraryThing member streamsong
“ 'Tis a funny thing', reflected the Count as he stood ready to abandon his suite. From the earliest age, we must learn to say good-bye to friends and family. We see our parents and siblings off at the station; we visit cousins, attend schools, join the regiment; we marry, or travel abroad. It is part of the human experience that we are constantly gripping a good fellow by the shoulders and wishing him well, taking comfort from the notion that we will hear word of him soon enough.

“But experience is less likely to teach us how to bid our dearest possessions adieu. And if it were to? We wouldn't welcome the education. For eventually, we come to hold our dearest possessions more closely that we hold our friends. We carry them from Place to place, often at considerable expense and inconvenience; we dust and polish their surfaces and reprimand children for playing too roughly in their vicinity-- all the while, allowing memories to invest them with greater and greater importance.” p14

In 1922 Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to perpetual house arrest in a small attic room at the Metropol hotel for being an 'unrepentant aristrocrat'. He is forced to give up his well appointed suite in the hotel, furnished with beloved antiques handed down his family through generations. He also is forced to give up his glittering multinational lifestyle, almost all of his possessions and most of his friendships.

But he not only makes the best of his situation, he thrives, as he focuses his attention on the people living within the hotel and the events that transpire there, managing to maintain his unique outlook.

Is the story realistic? This was the major quibble that my book club debated. I constantly expected him to be sent to some sort of prison or labor camp.

But, realistic or not, the count is a wonderful, well rounded character and the ending is one you will ponder.
… (more)
LibraryThing member John_Warner
Shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution, Count Alexander Rostov, a member of the Russian aristocracy, is found guilty of publishing a seditious poem. At the time, he was currently living in the largest suite of the grand Metropol Hotel. He has been sentenced to house arrest but moved to a room a little bigger than a closet. If he leaves the hotel he will be shot. For the next thirty+ years he adjusts to life in the hotel interacting with a number of hotel employees and guests, many from other countries.

This novel is primarily how one man copes with his imprisoned life. One sentence from the novel portrays his attitude and philosophy of life that helped him survive: "Having acknowledged that a man must master is circumstances or otherwise be mastered by them, the Count thought it worth considering how one was most likely to achieve this aim when one had been sentence to a life of confinement." The Count's motivation to make the best of less than ideal circumstances reminded me of the young Jewish protagonist in the foreign film, Life is Beautiful, or Victor Frankel's ability to survive in a concentration camp where may chose to give up and die. I believe that this book will eventually become a classic.
… (more)
LibraryThing member technodiabla
I loved this book! Finally an intelligent, meaty book I can sink my teeth into without feeling like it's a chore to wade through. This book took me 5 weeks to read because every sentence is meant to be savored, every chapter, reflected on. The plot was interested and compelling, but the asides-- the various reflections and pontifications of the supremely likable Count -- were equally enjoyable. This book is not for everyone due to the length and complexity, but if you like a thick "Russian" novel, this is a worthwhile investment of your time.… (more)
LibraryThing member Bookmarque
This will end up in my top five for the year I’m pretty sure. It’s subtle, charming, enchanting and well-crafted. If you like William Boyd, particularly Any Human Heart or Sweet Caress, I think you will like this, too. Instead of sending his character into the world to bump up against major events and find purpose, Towles confines his character to the Metropol Hotel and brings the world to him. It isn’t a book with a plot that dominates all. Instead it is almost a book of hours. How does Count Rostov fill his days now he’s a prisoner and no longer a Count? What fulfills him? What challenges him? Does he find love? It’s really an amazing piece of fiction and does what I think fiction should - entertains, educates and uplifts. Bravo!… (more)
LibraryThing member eachurch
A stylish, yet charming, philosophical novel about what gives life meaning and how to respond to adverse circumstances with grace. Towles explores the meaning and importance of love, friendship, kindness, and what it means to be a parent. Part of the story's charm is that it isn't very realistic.
LibraryThing member rayski
Alexander Rostov, a Russian aristocrat, is sentenced to life in a Moscow 5-star hotel at the start of the Bolshevik revolution. Rostov befriends a 9-year old girl Nadia who takes him back to his childhood, learning to live without privilege and the life of a commoner. Nadia grows up and returns to the hotel and leaves her 4 yr old daughter Sophie with Rostov who ends up raising Sophie to adulthood. In between Rostov befriends the hotel staff and becomes a close ally. The story is Rostov's, his transition from aristocrat to commoner and bachelor to unexpected father. In between some espionage, Russian revolution history and a daring escape.

Well written, great characters and a very enjoyable story that was easy to read.
… (more)
LibraryThing member Nancyjcbs
I absolutely loved this book. I put off finishing it for a day because I didn't want it to be over. Yet, at the end of each "book" as the novel is divided I thought the story could end here and the novel would be perfect.
The writing is just beautiful. Count Alexander has accepted and learned how to live well with his fate. His friends and "family" are deeply loved and loving.
This novel contains everything: humor, literature, history, geography, music, politics and intrigue.

The following is not part of my review but is relevant in these times. I just so happened to be reading this novel the last weekend of January 2017 as the newly inaugurated president tried to enforce a “Muslim ban.”
This paragraph jumped out at me:
"...I know you don't want to accept the notion that Russia may be inherently inward looking but do you think in America they are even having this conversation? Wondering if the gates of New York are about to be opened or closed?"
… (more)
LibraryThing member m_k_m
Sweet and sentimental in the best ways. It's also witty, insightful and life-affirming. Everything that has happened to you brought you to where you are now.
LibraryThing member ErickaS
A Gentleman in Moscow is a beautiful, engrossing story of Count Alexander Rostov, a Russian aristocrat conscripted by a Bolshevik Tribunal to live out his days under house arrest in the Metropol, a luxury hotel within view of the Kremlin. Rostov, however, no longer is allowed to inhabit his sprawling suite, but must instead hole up in the small attic amongst the looming heirloom furniture. Rostov, however, maintains his dignity, never forgetting his ancestry or the honor of a gentleman.

Spanning the decades following the Russian Revolution, this is the story of Rostov as he experiences the changes in politics and society from the time of Lenin to Khrushchev. He maintains his sophisticated lifestyle; although he can never step outside the hotel. The characters within the Metropol show Rostov what life is like on the outside, and many become as close to him as family, especially a certain 8-year-old girl, who is both precocious and adoring, who changes his life forever.

This book is delicate, subtle, full of humor and pathos. Every small, seemingly insignificant detail has ramifications as the story progresses. This is an exploration of the changing political and social climate of Russia as it affected individuals, the importance of tradition, and the bonds that can form over the treasures of a shared past. Towles’ descriptions made the book come alive. I smelled the delectable bouillabaisse prepared with black market ingredients, I tasted the tartness of the whiskey sipped in the hotel bar after closing, I chuckled at the sharp retorts to uninformed politicos.

I absolutely adored this story. I hung on every word, every description of Russian delicacies, every anecdote of the Russian gentry. I recommended this book highly. Watch out 2017 Booker committee, you need look no further for your winner.
This review is also on flyleafunfurled.com.
… (more)

Pages

480

ISBN

0670026190 / 9780670026197
Page: 0.3869 seconds