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Ein Gentleman in Moskau
von Amor Towles
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Beautifully written and engrossing story. The narrator was excellent. ( )
It is the business of the times to change, Mr. Halecki. And it is the business of gentlemen to change with them."
A charming novel. Amor Towles appears to belong to the genre I call faux-literature: stories with a bit of depth, historical or otherwise, and a writing style that is painted over with panache if not quite artistry. (It was no surprise to see that Towles has been associated with the novels of Scott Fitzgerald; he is the supreme purveyor of faux-literature.) There's nothing wrong with the genre at all - it may even be helpful in bringing avid readers to the pure stuff - but for someone like myself, I often find it, like Fitzgerald, grating. Perhaps it's the feeling a genuine gastronome would have on seeing my idea of "high-class" food: serving a reheated supermarket crêpe with a dusting of icing sugar, or upping the glamour of some potato chips by adding store-bought pâté. It's delightful and invigorating, but not quite the same. One begins to feel like it's a false promise for those who have never experienced haute cuisine, and a bald compromise for those who have... even if it makes me personally rather satisfied.
All of which is a harsh way of saying that - contrary to my own expectations - I adored this book. Positively revelled in it. Taking place over three decades, and set almost exclusively in one hotel in Moscow's theatre district, Towles' novel fuses character development with lush prose, a reasonably insightful long-game view of the rise of the Soviet Union, and - most importantly - a well-realised spirit of place. We spend so much time in the Metropol, that Towles has set himself an impressive task to continue to make the space surprising and enchanting, and he succeeds almost all the time.
If I'm honest, the author's attempts to be "literary" frustrated me as often as they appealed. Fair enough, he's writing a novel that is part-folk tale or allegory; this can forgive some of the flights of fancy. Perhaps I should accept that the moments that would be traditional narrative climaxes are often underserved. Perhaps I can even forgive the slightly twee footnotes, and the comic moments of Russians attempting to understand mid-20th century American culture. The novel is flirting with modernism without giving up its popular fiction niche, which is a tango that has tangled up greater writers than he. I suppose I could even invert my statement: for every moment that frustrated me, there was one that appealed. I find it very hard to dislike a writer who conjures up a scene in which actors start improvising when the lights go out during a performance of The Seagull, doing so in perfect Chekhov-ese (and transcribed on the page in script format). I genuinely bumped the book up a star because of that scene.
Will you like this book? Very probably. It appears everyone does. (My library has reduced the borrowing period on this book because of high demand!) The mingling of history and comedy with unashamedly art deco prose is an intoxicating combination for nostalgics, romantics, and tragics, every one. And even for those of us who aren't popular readers, it's a treat.
Yeah, so I'm DNF-ing this one. It's just not working for me.
I read this book on a whim considering that I always have a reading plan and a list , I just impulsively started reading it . The reason is the clear annoyance whenever the title of this book is mentioned in a comment or a line in an article or a Reddit post of how this book changed their lives or how wholesome it is . I was irritated , how can a book about a man in solitude be any fun , how can it be life changing , isn't the whole point of a book is to be around a big scope , and such questions arose in me which pushed me into reading it and to prove how over hyped this book is . Fortunately however the plan has failed and this book is extremely under hyped . It is a book that comes once in a lifetime , the count's character is the diamond in it I am not even sure I will find another one like him in any book I might read in the future , this is a book clearly qualified as life changing , a book that while reading it you are quoting everything , a book discussing how fate and luck and adaptation can be so effective in one's life , what the plot lacked in places , it compensated in emotional depth and great characters which I can't seem to forget . I had a pet peeve about something in the novel and it is the extreme luck the count possesses it almost seems unrealistic , and it does seem unrealistic but I think that is just part of the novel's magic . It highlights a lot of important themes . This is one of the few books where with each reread you will love it even more ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️A favorite indeed ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A disclaimer though : for some readers , the book is slow paced , so it might be perfectly alright if you think it gets into a slog or something , as it is more character focused , it is preferable to read it leisurely and calmly to fall in love with its characters , it is a novel that takes time and don't expect the plot to be realistic a lot , it is fiction so enjoy it as it is
I may be a fan of history and a fan of fiction, but it is a rare occasion when a work of historical fiction is added to my permanent collection of novels. Far too many books in the genre are uninspired in their contents, trite in tone, and lacking in the careful balance of historical integrity and nostalgia that can make historical fiction works shine, but Amor Towles’ A Gentleman in Moscow hits each of these marks as squarely as the protagonist, Count Rostov, hits his (albeit, rare) mark. After an idyllic childhood among the Russian aristocracy, and a momentary respite in Paris, Rostov is caught up in the aftereffects of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and for his crimes (of being rich) is sentenced to house arrest in Moscow’s Hotel Metropol. Banished to a small attic room at the pinnacle of the hotel, Rostov refuses to be brought low, and instead immerses himself in life within the closed walls of the hotel. Things may have changed in Russia, but the activities of the Hotel carry on in much the same manner - albeit with a proletariat cast of characters gracing the hotel with their presence. For all his wealthy upbringing, Rostov is a man who enjoys people of all walks of life and he is ever adaptable, wasting no time in making alliances with the employees of the Hotel and allowing an unexpected friendship with a young girl to transform his quickly souring interior monologues into a view which finds whimsy and meaning in every nook and cranny of his “prison.” As Rostov ages from a young man of 31 to his last days at the Hotel (just wait until the finale!), we see him take on unexpected challenges, balance the old world with his new reality, and find new meaning in his life. Digging into the minute details of the life of the Hotel, Towles makes the narrative glow with a carefully wrought nostalgia populated by lively characters and just the right amount of historical detail, creating a book that satisfies in a rare way.
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July 1, 2016
In his remarkable first novel, the best-selling Rules of Civility (2011), Towles etched 1930s New York in crystalline relief. Though set a world away in Moscow over the course of three decades, his latest polished literary foray into a bygone era is just as impressive. Sentenced as an incorrigible aristocrat in 1922 by the Bolsheviks to a life of house arrest in a grand Moscow hotel, Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is spared the firing squad on the basis of a revolutionary poem he penned as an idealistic youth. Condemned, instead, to live his life confined to the indoor parameters of Metropol Hotel, he eschews bitterness in favor of committing himself to practicalities. As he carves out a new existence for himself in his shabby attic room and within the magnificent walls of the hotel-at-large, his conduct, his resolve, and his commitment to his home and to the hotel guests and staff together form a triumph of the human spirit. As Moscow undergoes vast political changes and countless social upheavals, Rostov remains, implacably and unceasingly, a gentleman. Towles presents an imaginative and unforgettable historical portrait.--Flanagan, Margaret Copyright 2016 Booklist
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Summary - The Gentleman in Moscow: By Amor Towles (Gentleman in Moscow - a Complete Summary) von The Summary Guy
Summary: A Gentleman in Moscow - Summarized for Busy People: A Novel: Based on the Book by Amor Towles von Goldmine Reads
"A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel's doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery..."--
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.6Literature English (North America) American fiction 21st Century
Klassifikation der Library of Congress [LCC] (USA)
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