A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles a Book Review
It has been a while since I wrote a book review. It’s not that I haven’t been reading, it’s that a book hasn’t struck a chord in me enough that I felt compelled to write a review. Not that I’m an expert on book reviews!
So, Diane has been consistently prodding me (nagging me!) to read this book for the past three to four years. She’s been a huge fan of Amor Towles ever since she read Rules of Civility (which I have not read). On her birthday __ years ago, she was over the moon to attend an author luncheon hosted by one of our local indie bookstores, Diesel in Brentwood, to promote A Gentleman in Moscow. As luck would have it, she went to the luncheon solo and when she checked in, she sat at the table with Amor Towles because there was one seat vacant at his table. She gushed over this when she got home, and could not say enough good things about Amor Towles.
Onto my review of A Gentleman in Moscow! Having lived in Communist Hungary, the setting of a certain Count Rostov’s 30-year house arrest in the Metropole Hotel of Communist Moscow did not intrigue me. Although the book was on every best seller list, that discouraged me even more as I grumbled to myself that I was not going to read a “fad” book. (Mind you, Diane is an avid reader, not phased by popular reading lists, so I should perhaps learn to trust her reading judgment a bit more.)
Fast forward to March 13th, 2020, when the California Lockdown (otherwise known as “sheltering in place” began.) I started counting the days, then the weeks and ultimately the months we too were under house arrest, and I couldn’t shake the thoughts of A Gentleman in Moscow. I reconsidered and thought now might be the perfect to read this book. With that said, I gave in!
Amor Towles’ possesses writing skills beyond masterful; there are a few quotes I found so powerful that I feel compelled to share them, particularly given the current situation of the world. I have been trying to convince Diane that she should embrace the clock having been turned back about 60 years or so thanks to the politicians and their response to the Covid 19 Pandemic:
“…the endeavors that most modern men saw as urgent (such as appointments with bankers and the catching of trains), probably could have waited, while those they deemed frivolous (such as cups of tea and friendly chats) had deserved their immediate attention…”
Today on a regular basis, I see parents walking with their children, dog owners walking their dogs. These were scenes that were seldom seen in my neighborhood. I have to admit I will be saddened when this is no longer the case – I’m sure the children and the dogs will agree with me!
As a Beverly Hills Realtor, I have been making the most of spending all quality time at home with our pets, cooking and generating listings and sales without leaving home other than to shop for people food, wine and pet food . Hence, I relate to Count Rostov:
″‘…Who would have imagined,’ he said, ‘when you were sentenced to life in the Metropol all those years ago, that you had just become the luckiest man in all of Russia…‘”
“…adversity presents itself in many forms; and that if a man does not master his circumstances then he is bound to be mastered by them…”
Reflecting on statues being destroyed and names being erased from U.S. history, I could not help but share this quote:
“Our churches, known the world over for their idiosyncratic beauty, for their brightly colored spires and improbable cupolas, we raze one by one. We topple the statues of old heroes and strip their names from the streets, as if they had been figments of our imagination. Our poets we either silenced or wait patiently for them to silence themselves.”
And one last quote:
“And when that celestial chime sounds, perhaps a mirror will suddenly serve its truer purpose—revealing to a man not who he imagines himself to be, but who he has become.”
Friends, although I said I could take note from books recommended by Diane, I think in retrospect I made the best decision putting this book off until now – while A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles is indeed a 5* read, I think that reading it now in our current circumstances (or re-reading) gives it even more depth, understanding and enjoyment than ever before. Bravo Amor Towles!
Wishing you a safe and healthy life and I look forward to your comments.
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