Review: “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles

You *must* read this book.

Deep characters, an amazing (single) setting, gorgeous writing, a lavishly constructed story with a most satisfying ending, this book has it all. I was so happy to hear that Amor Towles had a new book on the way, and I was eagerly awaiting it. This book absolutely exceeded all my expectations, and I had high expectations after Rules of Civility.

Cover of the book on CD of Amor Towles' "A Gentleman in Moscow"
Amor Towles’ “A Gentleman in Moscow” book on CD is available at the Derby Public Library, as is the book.

Setting: The book takes place almost exclusively in the grand Metropol Hotel, which sits across the street from the Kremlin. I love books in which the setting is more than the just the location of the story, but this setting becomes such an integral part of the story but in such a way that it never gets in the way of the story. The hotel comes to life under the pen of Amor Towles, in such a gratifying way. It ages over the course of the story (which takes place over a little more than 30 years beginning shortly after the Bolshevik revolution), gracefully and wonderfully. And the beauty of Towles’ writing is that the reader is never burdened by excessive descriptions, just spare, lilting writing that transports to you to the Metropol and its lobby, ballroom, restaurants and most of all the belfry.

Characters: Count Rostov nearly jumped off the pages into my imagination and in the best way possible. The other inhabitants of this confined, yet limitless setting, are each so clearly painted that I felt like I was walking alongside them, or joining them in a meal, or eavesdropping on their conversations. The Count, Andrey, Emile, Anna, Nina and Sofia, and even the more minor characters are so alive.

Writing: Stunningly gorgeous. I’m not exaggerating. If I could even dream to put together words and phrases and sentences the way Towles does I would be deliriously happy. I highlighted sentences in my Kindle. I almost never do that. I have this as an e-book, but I went out and bought it in hardcover, because this is most definitely a book I will read again and again.

I took a few weeks to read this book. Not because I didn’t enjoy it, but because I wanted to make the pleasure of reading last as long as possible. I savored every minute of reading. I didn’t want it to end, but I wanted to know how it ended. And the ending was so satisfactory.

I’ve waited a few days to write this review, because I can’t get this book off my mind, and I want to write a review that will do this book justice. I received an e-galley of this book from NetGalley.

Alyssa Larue
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Author: Alyssa Larue

I am the teen librarian at DPL and the epitome of a book nerd. When I'm not producing our teen or tween short films or getting glue everywhere while making a teen zine, I can usually be found with my nose in a classic, historical fiction, or fantasy read!

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