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A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel by Amor…
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A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel (original 2016; edition 2016)

by Amor Towles (Author)

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2,6982333,227 (4.45)1 / 440
Member:TheCriticalTimes
Title:A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel
Authors:Amor Towles (Author)
Info:Viking (2016), Edition: 1, 480 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (2016)

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Showing 1-5 of 230 (next | show all)
This story takes place over several decades in communist Russia, beginning just after the revolution. It is the story of Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov who meets many people while he is forced to live in a hotel under house arrest. Two of the most notable people he meets are Nina and Sofia, young girls who change the count's life. The story also tells of the Count's many friendships. ( )
  rmarcin | Jan 22, 2019 |
‘’On Saturday, the twenty-first of June 1946, as the sun rose high over the Kremlin, a lone figure climbed slowly up the steps from the Moskva River embankment, continued past St.Basil’s Cathedral, and made his way onto Red Square.

Dressed in a ragged winter coat, he swung his right leg in a small semicircle as he walked. At another time, the combination of the ragged coat and hobbled leg might have made the man stand out on such a bright summer day. But in 1946, there were men limping about in borrowed clothes in every quarter of the capital. For that matter, they were limping about in every city of Europe.’’

Moscow, 1920s. It is a grey morning in the capital. It might be late autumn or early winter. The Moskva river stands witness to another day, to another uncertain outcome as it has done for so many centuries. Walk to the centre of the city with quick steps for the wind is freezing on your face. But do not be so hasty when you pass outside the Metropol Hotel, this beautiful building that resisted the violence of the mob a few years ago, in 1917. If you look up, you might see a young man, obviously an aristocrat, standing by the window of his suite, overlooking the glory of a metropolis whose contradictions are as many as its beauties.

Let Count Rostov be your guide to the most tumultuous decades of the country which gave birth to Chekhov and Tolstoy, to Dostoevsky, Pushkin and Gogol. To Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev. To Akhmatova and Mayakovsky. It would take an entire notebook to include them all. The land that left her eternal seal on architecture, ballet, music and every form of Art. The land that exerts an almost mystical fascination on those of us who love Culture. Russia. The enchantment of two continents, the beauty, the fury, the disillusionment.

‘’According to local lore, hidden deep within the forest was a tree with apples as black as coal - and if you could find this tree and eat of its fruit, you could start your life anew.’’

Count Alexander Rostov has been sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, after one of the infamous ‘’fair’’ trials by a Bolshevik tribunal. Because one thing we know about the Bolsheviks is how ‘’just’’ and ‘’cultured’’ they were...He is deemed too valuable to be killed off or sent to Siberia, therefore he becomes a permanent resident in the luxurious hotel near the Kremlin. As he becomes a member of the staff, putting his aristocratic upbringing to good use, he finds himself the protector of two young girls. He finds love in the face of an alluring, intelligent actress, he meets members of the Party who retain their own agenda and tries to avoid being plagued by memories of his past. Through his eyes, we witness the course of a nation that faces the consequences of questionable choices and actions. Oppression, hunger and isolation. And we, the readers, embark on an exciting journey in one of the most beautiful novels of our times.

Towles writes with beauty, elegance and pinache. While the setting and the period are familiar to most of us and the circumstances that led to one of the darkest eras in European History well-known, through clarity, beautiful prose and an elegant sense of humor and sarcasm, Towles creates a story that is rich and successful in depicting the nightmare of the Soviet era through the eyes of a man who is unable to walk the streets of the capital for decades. Alexander’s life before the Bolsheviks’ evil eyes turn on him is revealed gradually, layer after layer, guest by guest, conversation by conversation and Rostov’s course becomes the course of Russia over the long years.

‘’And suddenly it struck me that walking the length of Nevsky Prospekt was like walking the length of Russian Literature. Right there at the beginning - just off the avenue of the Moika embankment- is the house where Pushkin ended his years. A few paces on are the rooms where Gogol began Dead Souls. Then the National Library, where Tolstoy scoured the archives. And here, behind the cemetery walls, lies brother Fyodor, our restless witness of the human soul entombed beneath the cherry trees.’’

Towles pays homage to the greatness of Russian culture in every chapter, in every page. The plethora of great writers, the references to Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, the Russian contribution in the advancement of the motion picture, the philosophy and the particular psychosynthesis of the Russian Artist. The sceneries of Moscow, St.Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod. It is impossible to pinpoint the fascinating elements that make A Gentleman In Moscow such a unique experience.

‘’And I will be sure to say please and thank you whenever I ask for things. But I have no intention of thanking people for things I never asked for in the first place.’’

Alexander, Anna, Nina, Sophia, Andrey, Marina...Characters that deserves their very own novel. It is rare, so rare for a writer to create a cast where everyone is vital to the story, where everyone’s fate creates anticipation and wonder, in a novel whose main character is imprisoned in a golden cage.

Towles succeeded in creating a perfect story with an outstanding cast of characters and beautiful dialogue. He created a novel reminiscent of the classics of the past. He created a modern classic, a masterpiece.

‘’I have lived under the impression that a man’s purpose is known only to God.’’

My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.wordpress.com ( )
  AmaliaGavea | Jan 19, 2019 |
I usually avoid books that take place in Russia (perhaps it's my Cold War childhood), but this one was a book club read, and I'm glad it was. I found myself doing some research on the hotel and some of the history while engrossed in the novel. It was interesting to read of Russian history through the eyes of someone quite ordinary. The Count's life prior to the Bolshevik revolution gave this character an added insight that made his observations more interesting. I adore the Count and would have loved to include him in my circle of friends. ( )
  hobbitprincess | Jan 15, 2019 |
An utterly original and highly engaging account of Count Alexander Rostov; returning to Russia after the Revolution, the authorities are unable to decide if he is an enemy of the people...or, thanks to an ambiguous poem published by him,is on the side of Bolshevism. They sentence him to house arrest in the Hotel Metropol.
The novel takes place over the next 30+ years, in which Rostov never leaves the hotel. He is 'demoted' from a respected 'Your Excellency' in a luxury suite to a head waiter in a garret room.
But Rostov knows how to make the most of every opportunity. A beautiful actress; friends from his past; the 'triumvirate' formed with his fellow restaurant workers. And an intelligent and interesting 9 year old who befriends him...
As Russia emerges from post-revolutionary chaos through Stalin's regime and into Khruschev's, events seep into the world of the charming Count who (usually) manages to live by his maxim that "if a man does not master his circumstances then he is bound to be mastered by them."
The whole thing is a highly unusual structure, with chapters of events intercut with those focussing on memories or thoughts on life.
But a very enjoyable and lovely read. ( )
  starbox | Jan 15, 2019 |
Count Rostov's story is of the people in his life who of course are the staff and denizens of the Metropol Hotel where he is under house arrest. Written in third person narrative it is witty, tender, funny and at times quite profound in its observation of the human condition. With an entertaining plot that eventually focuses on the raising of Sophia who has been left in his care by a friend forced to flee to Siberia, the book touches on a number of themes: political, cultural and emotional. Perhaps its only flaw is the lighthearted & humorous handling of serious themes, but that is a personal choice of how to look at things. All In all, a finely crafted book and a highly enjoyable reading experience that leaves you richer. ( )
  amaraki | Jan 14, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 230 (next | show all)
Booklist
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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Epigraph
How well I remember

When it came as a visitor on foot
And dwelt a while amongst us
A melody in the semblance of a mountain cat.

Well, where is our purpose now?

Like so many questions
I answer this one
With the eye-averted peeling of a pear.

With a bow I bid goodnight
And pass through terrace doors
Into the simple splendors
Of another temperate spring;

But this much I know;

It is not lost among the autumn leaves on Peter's Square.
It is not among the ashes in the Athenaeum ash cans.
It is not inside the blue pagodas of your fine Chinoiserie.

It is not in Vronsky's saddlebags;
Not in Sonnet XXX, stanza one;
Not on twenty-seven red...

                                    Where Is It Now? (Lines 1-19)
                         Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov   1913
Dedication
For Stokley and Esme
First words
At half past six on the twenty-first of June 1922, when Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov was escorted through the gates of the Kremlin onto Red Square, it was glorious and cool.
Quotations
Mindful of their surroundings, the three damsels would initially speak in the hushed voices of gentility; but swept away by the currents of their own emotions, their voices would inevitably rise, such that by 11:15, even the most discreet enjoyer of a pastry would have no choice but to eavesdrop on the thousand-layered complications of their hearts.
The crowded confusion of furniture gave the Count's little domain the look of a consignment shop in the Arbat.
Yes, some claimed Emile Zhukovsky was a curmudgeon and others called him abrupt. Some said he was a short man with a shorter temper.
It was a place where Russians cut from every cloth could come to linger over coffee, happen upon friends, stumble into arguments, or drift into dalliances—and where the lone diner seated under the great glass ceiling could indulge himself in admiration, indignation, suspicion, and laughter without getting up from his chair.
Tall and thin, with a narrow head and superior demeanor, he looked rather like a bishop that had been plucked from a chessboard.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670026190, Hardcover)

“The book moves briskly from one crisp scene to the next, and ultimately casts a spell as captivating as Rules of Civility, a book that inhales you into its seductively Gatsby-esque universe.” Town & Country

From the New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Civility—a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel

 
With his breakout debut novel, Rules of Civility, Amor Towles established himself as a master of absorbing, sophisticated fiction, bringing late 1930s Manhattan to life with splendid atmosphere and a flawless command of style. Readers and critics were enchanted; as NPR commented, “Towles writes with grace and verve about the mores and manners of a society on the cusp of radical change.”

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.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 01 May 2016 17:55:00 -0400)

""In all ways a great novel, a nonstop pleasure brimming with charm, personal wisdom, and philosophic insight.this book more than fulfills the promise of Towles' stylish debut, Rules of Civility."--Kirkus Reviews (starred) From the New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Civility--a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel With his breakout debut novel, Rules of Civility, Amor Towles established himself as a master of absorbing, sophisticated fiction, bringing late 1930s Manhattan to life with splendid atmosphere and a flawless command of style. Readers and critics were enchanted; as NPR commented, "Towles writes with grace and verve about the mores and manners of a society on the cusp of radical change." 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. Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count's endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose"--… (more)

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