You will not meet a fine man such as Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov easily. Amor Towles, that New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Civility has got me thinking, speaking, reading like the man. For how long, I do not know, but let me remember that I am trying to write a review of A Gentleman in Moscow of such impeccable quality that you will want to read this book as soon as you’re done reading this review.
So, meet Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov. On 21 June, 1922, the Count appeared before the Emergency Committee of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs. In a nutshell, the Count thought it wise to publish a poem that he shouldn’t have. His judgment: he must stay in the Hotel Metropol and never leave. Years come and go and eventually so do decades, but perhaps a forced life inside a hotel needn’t be a punishment at all.
If one were to wonder how so many pages dedicated to the Count’s years in this hotel can keep readers satisfied until the end, than this book is a fine example of how it can be so.
What readers can look forward to is a little over three decades, from the early 1920s to the mid-1950s, in Moscow according to the account of an unknown narrator. The author introduces us to a variety of places inside the hotel where, throughout the rest of the book, we can be sure to find the Count. You might find him at a dinner table at the Boyarsky, or see him in a barbershop that he visits once a week.
When the Count tells you to consider something, you can bet that after his explanation, you’ll feel more clarified than you usually do after a couple of clicks on a search engine’s search button. So much so (See!) that you’ll want to be in this man’s company as much as you can. Also, what makes following the Count so enjoyable is that he never fails to surprise his readers. You simply must meet the Count for yourself!
Towles has simply created a protagonist that fascinated me to no end. The Count, his thoughts and his words, is what kept me coming back and back and back. Of course, the author’s intriguing protagonist shouldn’t be the only reason why this book is so exciting. Upon recalling a humorous scene in which a man has the gall to clip the Count’s moustache, I can attest that there are a couple of interesting things happen at the Metropol.
I relished every moment of reading this book. Much to my wonder, there isn’t a lot about this book that I didn’t like. I could say that I wished the Count didn’t like life at the Metropol so much as he appeared to, but perhaps the fact that life at the Metropol did indeed appear to be so interesting, the author chose to keep it that way. After all, that’s where the Count will be most of time.
If one were to wonder how so many pages dedicated to the Count’s years in this hotel can keep readers satisfied until the end, than this book is a fine example of how it can be so. Never is one bored after the end of a chapter. The hours one needs to invest in the read of this book is time well spent for the reader looking to experience Moscow in the early to mid-1900s.
I received a free copy of this book from Penguin Random House SA in exchange for an honest review.
Date Published: February 9, 2017