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A Gentleman in Moscow Reviews

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

A Gentleman in Moscow

Amor Towles

4.38 out of 5

4 reviews

Imprint: Viking
Publisher: Viking
Publication date: 6 Sep 2016
ISBN: 9780670026197

On 21 June 1922, Count Alexander Rostov – recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew, member of the Jockey Club, Master of the Hunt – is escorted out of the Kremlin, across Red Square and through the elegant revolving doors of the Hotel Metropol. 

Deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the Count has been sentenced to house arrest indefinitely. But instead of his usual suite, he must now live in an attic room while Russia undergoes decades of tumultuous upheaval. 

Can a life without luxury be the richest of all?

5 stars out of 5
10 Apr 2021

" a tale abundant in humour, history and humanity, with a poignant message about time passing"

"Since the time of Peter the Great, we have acted as the poor cousin of the West - admiring their ideas as much as we admire their clothes," the Count is informed by Party officer Osip Ivanovich Glebnikov. "But we are about to assume a very different role." This sounds portentous and Towles is perhaps slightly too keen to inform us with cultural references and historical footnotes. However, A Gentleman in Moscow is also frothy and fun with the prose, at times, taking on a Wodehousian gaiety: "At the centre of every table - whether it was hosted by the high or the humble - was a serving of caviar, for it is the genius of this particular delicacy that it may be enjoyed by the ounce or the pound."


5 stars out of 5
Laura Freeman
11 Feb 2017

"This is a book to spark joy"

For a novel about casting off worldly goods, A Gentleman in Moscow is exquisitely propped and styled, from the silver samovars to the red covers of Baedeker guides — shades of the film director Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. As at the Grand Budapest, the whimsy at the Metropol is sometimes overdone. But the count charms and disarms, and his story sparks much joy and a new anti-Kondo philosophy: chuck much, but keep all the books. 

4 stars out of 5
23 Sep 2016

"What saves the book is the gorgeous sleight of hand that draws it to a satisfying end"

Solzhenitsyn this is not. The frost gathers outside, but the book proceeds with intentional lightness. The tone is generally not far removed from the Fitzgeraldian tributes of Towles’s first novel, “Rules of Civility.”... Towles is a craftsman. What saves the book is the gorgeous sleight of hand that draws it to a satisfying end, and the way he chooses themes that run deeper than mere sociopolitical commentary: parental duty, friendship, romance, the call of home. 

3 stars out of 5
Constance Grady
9 Sep 2016

"A Gentleman in Moscow is, like its protagonist, witty, likable, and charming to a fault"

...the bulk of Gentleman in Moscow is so much fun that its occasional synonym abuse is hardly noticeable. Towles’s evocation of Russia throughout the first half of the 20th century is precise and focused. Through the count’s eyes, from the lobby of the hotel, we see trends in clothing, food, music, and ideology come and go. We watch as jazz is deemed first dangerously decedent and then irresistible; we watch the count fall madly in love with Humphrey Bogart.... And in the end, the count’s charm — overpowering as it is — comes to seem brave and even heroic. The count loses one way of life and has to invent another, but he refuses to lose his sense of courtesy and grace.