A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

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A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Category: Literary Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Olivia Tierney
Reviewed by Olivia Tierney
Summary: Beautifully descriptive and with charming characters, A Gentleman in Moscow brings Russian culture and history to life. It is let down, however, by its pacing and lack of story at times.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 464 Date: February 2017
Publisher: Hutchinson
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1786330383

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For what matters in life is not whether we receive a round of applause; what matters is whether we have the courage to venture forth despite the uncertainty of applause

A Gentleman in Moscow follows the life of Count Alexander Rostov, who on 21st June 1922 appears before the Bolsheviks' Emergency Committee of the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs. There he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat, however thanks to a poem Where is it now? written in 1913 under his name, rather than execution he is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, the grand hotel across the Red Square from the Kremlin. Rostov, now stripped of all luxuries that defined his life, must live in a tiny attic room whilst some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding just beyond the hotel's doors. But despite confinement, Rostov will find new purpose in life, and with the help of a glamorous actress, an argumentative chef and a very serious child, he will unlock a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Without a shadow of a doubt, Towles has a gift for writing description. With nothing left to the imagination, the reader is fully immersed in the world of the Hotel Metropol and this is credit to Towles' smooth writing which flows very well. Our narrator, Count Rostov is a very likeable character who is charming, intelligent, and witty with a great love for his country. A great feature of the novel is his character progression which the reader can see distinctly, from his intriguing past and devil may care attitude to his love for his adopted daughter and the responsibility he feels towards her happiness.

Although the history is extensively well-researched, I was disappointed that the reader was informed of the political events occurring both in Russia and internationally at the time, rather than getting to experience it first hand through the characters. I also struggled with the pacing of the novel, as at some points the story was very lengthy and slow with rare fleeting moments of suspense and action. This may have been due to the formal style of writing, which was perhaps also responsible for the reader feeling a bit disconnected from the narrator's thoughts and feelings.

A novel driven by characters and their developments, A Gentleman in Moscow is an endearing piece of literary fiction. In terms of further reading, Rules of Civility by Amor Towles is the author's first novel and details life in the 1930's in Manhattan. With a great heroine and more beautiful descriptions, it is again a character driven novel all about making a life for yourself and will appeal to those who enjoyed A Gentleman in Moscow.

Buy A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles at Amazon.com.


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