A beautiful piece of literature, A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles is a book that deserves to be savored line by line. Towle’s first book, Rules of Civility, is a favorite historical fiction of mine so I’d been anticipating his next book for years and it arrived in the form of A Gentleman in Moscow.
In 1922, The Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol Hotel in Moscow, Russia by the Bolshevik tribunal. He lives in a small cramped room in the attic and is forbidden from stepping foot outside the hotel. Although the story is told from within the walls of the hotel (for the most part) it’s not a small story. A Gentleman in Moscow spans over 4 decades of Russian history.
I couldn’t help but be charmed by this novel and the Count. Witty and extremely perceptive, he is the ultimate surveyor of the details in life. Throughout the story, we’re introduced to the various personalities of the people who live and/or work within the hotel. This includes Sofia, the child who ends up on the Count’s doorstep (or in this case, the hotel lobby). The interactions between these characters are fantastic dialogue. I was intrigued by the charming and the quirky characters alike, and was excited to see where the various personalities met.
For me, this wasn’t a quick read. I took my time and enjoyed the smaller details that eventually build up to the final scenes of the story when the Count’s life changes forever.
“’A king fortifies himself with a castle,’ observed the Count, ‘a gentleman with a desk.’”
“But imagining what might happen if one’s circumstances were different was the only sure way to madness.”
“But time and tide wait for no man.”
“That sense of loss is exactly what we must anticipate, prepare for, and cherish to the last of our days; for it is only heartbreak that refutes all that is ephemeral in love.”
“…the thousand-layered complications of their hearts.”
“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 acclaim.”