A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow

Book - 2016 | First edition.
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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. But instead of being taken to his usual suite, he is led to an attic room with a window the size of a chessboard. Deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the Count has been sentenced to house arrest indefinitely. While Russia undergoes decades of tumultuous upheaval, the Count, stripped of the trappings that defined his life, is forced to question what makes us who we are. And with the assistance of a glamorous actress, a cantankerous chef and a very serious child, Rostov unexpectedly discovers a new understanding of both pleasure and purpose.
Publisher: ©2016
New York, NY :, Viking,, [2016]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780670026197
Characteristics: 462 pages : map ; 24 cm.
Summary: 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. But instead of being taken to his usual suite, he is led to an attic room with a window the size of a chessboard. Deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the Count has been sentenced to house arrest indefinitely. While Russia undergoes decades of tumultuous upheaval, the Count, stripped of the trappings that defined his life, is forced to question what makes us who we are. And with the assistance of a glamorous actress, a cantankerous chef and a very serious child, Rostov unexpectedly discovers a new understanding of both pleasure and purpose.

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PCope Jul 17, 2018

I did end up adoring this book, but it's not the easiest book to get into. You have to give it a chance and turn yourself over to the experience. And once you do, you'll see the Count is charming, surprising, and utterly engrossing. Sort of a Scarlet Pimpernel crossed with Rick from 'Casablanca'. Read it more than once. Really. You'll have to, since it's irresistible.

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WoodneathSheri
Jul 02, 2018

This is a book of historical fiction that takes place in Moscow. It's one of the best books I've read in a long time. I loved all the characters, especially Count Alexander Rostov, the main character. He is truly a gentleman. Even though he was stripped of his freedom he continued to live his life with dignity, kindness, and grace. The writing was beautiful and it really brought the story to life for me. I never felt like I wanted to rush through the book even though it was slow paced. Instead I wanted to explore the halls with Nina and dine with the Count. I loved everything about this book and highly recommend that you enjoy it with a glass of wine. 5 giant stars!

h
hetzelg
Jun 09, 2018

Count Rostov is portrayed as a multi-layered man whose circumstances have changed radically from his youth to the 30+ years he spends as a man under house arrest. While he fondly reminisces about those days of old, he is not paralyzed by them. Through his relationships with other employees and guests at the Metropol Hotel in Moscow he learns to live his new life to the fullest if not beat the communists at their own game.
A great read, well paced and imminently entertaining!

s
swdelaney2
Jun 07, 2018

Just a delightful book!

c
cknightkc
Jun 05, 2018

Almost from the start, this charming adult fairy tale cast its spell on me, though the sentimentality was never overpowering. Like the bouillabaisse served by the Triumvirate, A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW has all the right ingredients: an original, engaging story; a colorful cast of characters; a sumptuous setting; beautiful prose; and moments of humor and wisdom, with dashes of Russian history and culture. It so pleased my literary palate, I just might go back for seconds.

k
kathywsd
May 15, 2018

Can I really be the only person who didn't care for this book? Or is everyone else just afraid to say so! I was so bored I only got through about 100 pages and gave up.

t
tjdickey
May 03, 2018

Towles guides us on a literary journey through all of the major nodes of Russian culture in the early 20th century - the political mayhem around the founding of the Soviet state, the hopefulness of the Five Year Plans and the growing bureaucracy, the rise of Stalin and the different relations with the United States. We get to experience the best of Russian food, music, jazz, ballet, fashion, and even underground religion.
But the best aspect for Russophiles (or anyone who enjoys a good turn of phrase) is that the author shapes his prose to mirror aesthetic shifts through time: echoes of imperial Tolstoy at first, followed by moments of world-weary Soviet realism, and some hints of quiet absurdist protest against the way of life. All of this smorgasboard is laid before us in the limited space of the Hotel Metropol, where the title character is sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life.
The phrase tour de force is appropriate.

t
talk2terih
Apr 25, 2018

Towles offers us a simple moral story of a Russian aristocrat consigned to the purgatory of life under house arrest as a consequence of the Bolshevik revolution. The Count is confronted with two choices: bemoaning his fate while allowing his constricting environment to constrict his spirit or opening himself to every experience the microcosmic world of his luxury hotel "prison" has to offer. The choice he makes changes his life and those of the people around him.

The story has the feel of a modern day fairy tale. The Count is reminiscent of The Little Princess, alone in his garrett room, dreaming of better days, but heartened by the colorful individuals who come and go in his life, changing it for the better. The Princess had her nabob. The Count has the hotel's guests, employees, and visitors.

In spite of the fanciful premise of house arrest in a luxury hotel, the characters and their emotions feel very real. Towles depicts the aristocrat whose way of life has become obsolete beautifully. The Count is educated, witty, cultured, urbane, and unfailingly kind to everyone he meets. He is the very image of what well bred meant in his age. It is that very kindness that saves him when he contemplates taking his own life. And it is his kindness and friendship toward the hotel employees that provides him with a family to replace those he has lost.

Yes, the tale has a touch of the saccharine here and there and asks us to believe some situations and events that strain credulity, but what would a fairytale be without some sugarplums and magic?

x
xiaojunbpl12
Apr 20, 2018

Perfect read for the book club, when ladies' proclivity of feeling good peppered with emotion turmoil.
I kept in mind of my proletariat upbringing, working class ethics, intellectual enrichment in minimum material means, ideology (that would deprave but not...), lack and envious of aristocrat elegance..., I tried to discount such a fictionalized fairy tale and a grandiloquent personal epic. Nevertheless, I was totally captivated by the humor and wisdom delivered in an utterly artificial setting against the true historical backdrop with fake minutiae I care about deeply.
The bottom line is, I identify with the Count (Sasha, Rostov, Alexander, "Your Excellency").

The writer's craft seems intuitive, a non-acquired talent.

d
davelaw
Apr 10, 2018

A beautifully constructed story. Every word, phrase, sentence, paragraph, and chapter are to be savored.

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c
cknightkc
Jun 05, 2018

“…if a man does not master his circumstances then he is bound to be mastered by them.” - p. 18

c
cknightkc
Jun 05, 2018

“Manners are not like bonbons, Nina. You may not choose the ones that suit you best; and you certainly cannot put the half-bitten ones back in the box. . . .” - p. 52

c
cknightkc
Jun 05, 2018

“Here, indeed, was a formidable sentence--one that was on intimate terms with a comma, and that held the period in healthy disregard.” - p. 68

c
cknightkc
Jun 05, 2018

“It is a sad but unavoidable fact of life," he began, "that as we age our social circles grow smaller. Whether from increased habit or diminished vigor, we suddenly find ourselves in the company of just a few familiar faces.” - p. 94

c
cknightkc
Jun 05, 2018

“After all, what can a first impression tell us about someone we’ve just met for a minute in the lobby of a hotel? For that matter, what can a first impression tell us about anyone? Why, no more than a chord can tell us about Beethoven, or a brushstroke about Botticelli. By their very nature, human beings are so capricious, so complex, so delightfully contradictory, that they deserve not only our consideration, but our reconsideration—and our unwavering determination to withhold our opinion until we have engaged with them in every possible setting at every possible hour.” - pp. 120-121

c
cknightkc
Jun 05, 2018

“Showing a sense of personal restraint that was almost out of character, the Count had restricted himself to two succinct pieces of parental advice. The first was that if one did not master one’s circumstances, one was bound to be mastered by them; and the second was Montaigne’s maxim that the surest sign of wisdom is constant cheerfulness.” - p. 419

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c
Carolyn_51
Mar 14, 2018

The author shows insight into the customs. language, and values of his characters and their time. In just a few words he makes the reader picture the scene and often leaves gaps of years, leaving an explanation of what happened during this time for later in the story. A book that I couldn't put down.

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