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One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Shortly after the Russian revolution, a White Russian count is spared execution because of a subversive poem he wrote defying authority before the fall of the Czar and is, instead, exiled to an attic room in a luxury hotel in the heart of Moscow, where he once enjoyed a luxurious suite and all the amenities that wealth could provide. As he adapts to his house arrest, we follow his encounters with the motley denizens, employees and visitors of the hotel and watch how his state of mind changes alongside the Russia outside the walls of the hotel. Both meditative and, at times, truculent, this also forms a parallel history of Russia over the following forty years or so until the death of Stalin and for a narrative isolated inside a closed locale becomes amazingly broad in scope, reflective, expansive and so often terribly moving, albeit with much wit and humour. Unforgettable characters, both fictional and real life, a web of subtle relationships: all human life is here and a triumphant follow-up to Towles' debut novel which had been set in the glitter of New York in the 1930s. Long but wonderfully rewarding, this will make you laugh, cry and smile, an epic that never even moves outside the hotel's lobby! Loved it. ~ Maxim Jakubowski
February 2017 MEGA Book of the Month.
The Lovereading view...
Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, the gentleman of the title, is not executed with his fellow aristocrats for he had already left Russia at the start of the Revolution and he returns in 1918. This mystifies the Bolshevik tribunal he stands before in 1922. He wrote a poem which is deemed a call to arms, but for which side? So he is placed under house arrest for life. Conveniently his address for the last four years has been The Hotel Metropol, the best in Moscow. Now moved to humble rooms in the old servant quarters in the belfry, he nonetheless has the run of the beautiful establishment, the restaurants and bar. He makes friends with the servants and guests alike and is dubbed by an old student friend who has suffered in the Gulag, “the luckiest man in Russia”. Intrigue, romance and friendship pepper the years as we follow the Count from 1922 to 1954, a time of huge change as a new Russia is created. With a nod towards the period in its style and lots of philosophy, I wouldn’t say this was compulsive but it is strangely hypnotic, one is certainly drawn to it although it isn’t an easy read. It is a comfortable book to be with despite its horrific span in history for imprisoned in his hotel, Rostov is indeed one of the luckiest in Russia. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
On 21 June 1922 Count Alexander Rostov - recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew, member of the Jockey Club, Master of the Hunt - is escorted out of the Kremlin, across Red Square and through the elegant revolving doors of the Hotel Metropol. But instead of being taken to his usual suite, he is led to an attic room with a window the size of a chessboard. Deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the Count has been sentenced to house arrest indefinitely. While Russia undergoes decades of tumultuous upheaval, the Count, stripped of the trappings that defined his life, is forced to question what makes us who we are. And with the assistance of a glamorous actress, a cantankerous chef and a very serious child, Rostov unexpectedly discovers a new understanding of both pleasure and purpose.
In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.
A comic masterpiece . . . very funny, tender and as laughably accurate an account of the dismal nature of life in Soviet Russia as one could hope for . . . Quite apart from the ingeniously ludicrous plot and the acutely drawn characters, what adds to the joy of this book is the precision of Towles style. Again and again he conveys exactly the right impression with a deliciously surprising choice of words . . . a sheer delight. -- William Hartson Daily Express
A work of great charm, intelligence and insight. -- Nick Rennison Sunday Times
Elegant sentences, wonderful characters and inventive storytelling . . . This is everything a novel should be: charming, witty, poetic and generous. An absolute delight. Mail on Sunday
There is so, so much to love in this book as we keep company with the endlessly entertaining Count . . .[This] novel is wistful, whimsical and wry and elegantly captures that most apposite of lessons: 'By the smallest of one's actions, one can restore some sense of order to the world'. Brilliant -- Eithne Farry Sunday Express
A Gentleman in Moscow is a tale abundant in humour, history and humanity, with a poignant message about time passing. That Towles also makes this rollicking good fun is no mean feat. -- Constance Watson Sunday Telegraph
Publication date: 02/11/2017
Publisher: Windmill Books an imprint of Cornerstone
Publication date: 09/02/2017
Publisher: Hutchinson an imprint of Cornerstone
|Publication date:||2nd November 2017|
|Publisher:||Windmill Books an imprint of Cornerstone|
|Genres:||Books of the Year 2017, eBook Favourites, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Reading Groups,|
|Categories:||Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),|
Amor Towles was born and raised in the Boston area. He graduated from Yale University and received an MA in English from Stanford University. An investment professional for over twenty years, he now devotes himself full time to writing. Towles lives in Manhattan with his wife and two children.More About Amor Towles