Book Review: “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles

gentleman in moscowShortly after this book came out in 2016, patrons at the library began telling me that I HAD to read it. These friendly insistences continued fairly regularly over the ensuing months, and so I finally picked up a copy and dove in. The story follows Count Rostov, an ex-member of Russia’s nobility who is sentenced by the Bolsheviks in 1922 to house arrest in the hotel Metropol. His cramped attic room may not compare to the palace he grew up in, or even the luxurious suite he was previously occupying, but it’s certainly better than the alternatives. While he genuinely loves the hotel and its amenities, his inability to move about the rest of Moscow begins to take its toll on him, that is until a young girl who is also there for an extended stay strikes up a conversation with him one day at lunch. From then on, via friends both new and old, he learns much of himself and the very joys of life, all while Russia goes through several tumultuous decades. The characters here are superb and it’s impossible not to fall in love with nearly all of them, with Count Rostov himself perhaps being one of the best ever put to the page. He is a true gentleman through and through, from his good-natured manner to his intellectual curiosity to his witty conversation, and I found myself wanting to both befriend him and be more like him. Mr. Towles is a truly gifted writer-he describes the hotel so well I can recall it as though I had visited there myself, and his descriptions of the food being served in the hotel’s restaurants will have your mouth watering. He expertly weaves in some weighty themes including some of the aforementioned tumult that was occurring in Russia at the time, though this is a primarily uplifting book. It is an absolute joy to read throughout, and I can see now why so many people were urging me to read it. I only wish I had listened to them sooner, though I suspect I won’t wait nearly as long before I pick it up and read it again. ★★★★★ – Sean Farrell

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★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor

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