Humor, Grace and Cleverness


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

This book sounded interesting, the samples online flowed very well, and I thought it would be worth reading and, to enhance the experience, to read in a ‘hard copy’ rather than an electronic one. (I am one of those criminals who marks passages that I happen to like.) As it happens, I marked quite a few of them.

If you want crowds of villains and heroes and vivid love scenes, this is not for you. If you are hoping for a standard ‘spy’ novel, or a tale pf oppression and harshness and heroic resistance, you will be disappointed. This is the straightforward story of a man’s life under house arrest starting in 1922 and ending in 1954.

Count Alexander Rostov, the last of an aristocratic family, has been living under house arrest at a hotel in Moscow. At the beginning of the novel, he has been advised that he will be required to move to a much smaller set of rooms. This will entail discarding some items that he has treasured over the years. He takes this in stride, and the story follows the events in his life, as though you are an interested observer.

Deftly told, peopled with characters that you can understand, even if you don’t like them, featuring Rostov’s memories of long-ago events and his musings on life, people and chance, this book seems to move at the pace of a person’s life. It contains the totality of its main character, and the other characters that come into the story and linger before moving on, provide color and interest. You care for them.