ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amor Towles is an American author who has written five fiction books on a wide range of subjects besides one essay on transatlantic travel. His books, The Rules of Civility and A Gentleman in Moscow, were especially well received by critics and readers alike. His novels have been translated into more than thirty-five languages around the world, winning several awards in the process.
SYNOPSIS (MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS)
A Gentleman in Moscow is a historical-fiction novel set in the erstwhile Russian Empire during the Bolshevik Revolution. It relates the story of Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, an aristocrat put under a thirty-two-year house arrest for being seen as an enemy of the class struggle. However, unlike other aristocrats, the Count’s life was spared due to an apparently revolutionary poem he had written a decade ago. The plot is all about how one can lead an enriching life despite being bound within the physical and emotional confines of space and circumstances.
Once the Tsar of Russia was executed by the Bolsheviks, the Count, who was in Paris at the time, returns in haste and ensures that his grandmother flees the country to safety. He himself, however, refuses to leave and instead packs up a few of his possessions to take to Moscow.
After he is placed under house arrest in the Metropol Hotel, the Count is moved from his plush room to an unfurnished attic. He is allowed to bring only a few personal items that the attic room can hold and the rest are confiscated.
However, despite losing many of his cherished artifacts, the Count manages to take his hoard of gold coins with him, hidden inside the legs of a table. He decides to devote his time to the practicalities of his new life and tries to make his situation bearable by adapting to that life.
He meets several people during his stay in the hotel and has various encounters that shape his life while educating the readers about the class struggle and growing communism in Russia in the 1930’s.
WHAT WE LIKED ABOUT A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW
A Gentleman in Moscow stands out for how it brings history to life with its vivid descriptions and detailed imagery. The people who meet the Count only make the book more enjoyable, for none of their interactions with Rostov seem forced.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER ABOUT A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW
The story spans over thirty years. While in some cases the author has given a detailed account of events, in other instances he simply jumps over the years, leaving the readers somewhat confused as to what happened in a given year.
Fate would not have the reputation it has, if it simply did what it seemed it would do.
If a man does not master his circumstances then he is bound to be mastered by them.
To what end, he wondered, had the Divine created the stars in heaven to fill a man with feelings of inspiration one day and insignificance the next?
A Gentleman in Moscow would appeal to history buffs who also like to read about some heavy topics like communism and class struggle. This book easily merits 3.5 stars out of 5 and is a must-read if you are a fan of historical/literal fiction.
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