A Gentleman in Moscow

Cover.A Gentleman in MoscowBy Amor Towles

The Short Take:

Who would think that a novel about house imprisonment in Communist Russia could provide such a delightful escape for readers today? But the luxurious Hotel Metropol is not your typical home, and the erudite Count Rostov is certainly no despairing inmate. He finds pleasure, purpose, and invaluable companionship in the course of this novel. And, so will you.

Why?

To call this a souffl√© of a book would be untrue. Though light in spirit and tasty in its details, there is a continual tension between the hero’s esthetic and Bolshevik goals. The Metropol provides the perfect setting for these two to interact — supporting the aristocratic tastes of the former while bending to the demands of the latter.

Towles tips his hat to the great Russian writers, including a gun appearing in the first act, and an amusing discussion about confusing Russian names (unsurprisingly, many found in this book are also found in War and Peace).

A Little Plot:

Count Rostov is on trial for, basically, the crime of being a count. However, in his youth he wrote a well know poem in support of the revolution, so instead he is confined for life to the Metropol, where he has a fine suite of rooms. Of course, he must now live in cramped attic quarters. But the Count firmly believes if you do not master your circumstances you will be mastered by them. And, he proceeds to do just that. Like a gentleman.

For more about Towles and his book, click here.

 

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