A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel
Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is sentenced to house arrest in 1922, shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia ended the rule of the Tsar and eventually brought about the Soviet Union. It could have been worse: he was to be held for the rest of his days under arrest in the grand Metropol Hotel (and it could have been much worse, as many aristocrats were summarily executed in the early days after the revolution). But Count Rostov makes the most of his new reality, and as an aristocrat with a finely tuned palate, eventually finds work in the famous restaurant of the Metropol. Fate intervenes over the years, and, later in his life, a six-year-old girl is suddenly thrust into his care, and his values and priorities change once again.
Towles is a master at conjuring a wholly realized time and place. In Rules of Civility, his first book, it was late-1930s Manhattan; here, early- to mid-twentieth-century Russia. He sweeps readers up not only in the era but also in the specific life of the Metropol Hotel, and one could spend hours simply wandering along its halls and hidden corners with the Count and his friends. Towles engages his readers effortlessly for four-hundred-and-sixty-plus pages. Gentleman is an undeniable winner.
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