Effortlessly stylish, A Gentleman In Moscow is a sumptuous feast for the mind, soul and all the senses. Rambunctious and witty, it is a philosophical adventure that will both furrow brows and incite outbursts of laughter.
A Gentleman In Moscow is the tale of Count Rostov, 30 year old aristocrat and son of a bygone, once-opulent Russia. Sentenced to ‘house’ arrest by the Bolshevik court, the Count must tailor his life from one of opulence to one of necessity. Fortunately for Rostov, he is allowed to remain living in Moscow’s once-grand-now-slightly-less-grand Metropol hotel, vacating his sumptuous suite for an attic residence on the sixth floor.
Unable to leave the grounds of the Metropol, Rostov soon finds himself introduced to a multitude of new persons, starting with the overly precocious Nina, 9-year old daughter of a foreign bureaucrat. As A Gentleman In Moscow unfolds, Rostov’s life takes on a new meaning. His sense of value, place and purpose shift as circumstance gifts the Count an education that no private school or philosopher ever could.
Ever the optimist, Count Rostov makes the most out of circumstance. His self-styled approach driven by practicality and humility rather than shame or revenge. His love of experience is at the heart of his perspective; every meal is a gateway to a memory, every sip of brandy a philosophical lesson, every conversation a chance to learn and gain a friend (or adversary).
Throughout the novel, Towles’ writing is as smart and dapper as the Count himself. The hotel characters and scenery styled like a Wes Anderson flick. The descent from opulence to Bolshevik sparsity is depicted with an accurate sense of trepidation for the unknown. This is, after all, a country undergoing revolution, its citizens undergoing personal revolutions as well.
Review by Joel
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