By: Amor Towles
Published Year: 2016
Amazon Barnes & Noble
Summary (Provided by Goodreads): A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery.
Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.
The cover of this book caught my eye on Goodreads. It is a bit mysterious and piqued my curiosity. The summary drew me in completely. I was fascinated by the idea of a story about a man who is jailed to live in a hotel room for the rest of his days. I feel like this is one of the first books in a while that completely drew me in by the cover without me knowing or hearing anything about it first.
What I thought
This book was so different from anything else I have read.
A Gentleman in Moscow ranges from 1922, when Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to live his days at the Metropol hotel, to the mid-late 1950s. Once the Count is sentenced to never step foot out of the Metropol hotel, the reader is brought through his life and the history of Russia. Alexander has a unique perspective because while he cannot go outside the hotel and experience what is happening, a lot of the diplomats from Russia and other countries come to stay at the Metropol as well as hold meetings in the ballroom.
I was fascinated by the movement of the historical events and how the Count experienced them. That was what piqued my interest when I read the summary and it was what held me in while I was reading. I have never read a historical fiction novel that took place in Russia, so all of the historical nuances were new to me.
The writing style does take a little while to get used to and is very slow moving. Towles occasionally addresses the reader about pieces of history that won’t be directly addressed in the story, or about characters who will not be coming back into the story and a little bit about what happens to them/why they are not coming back. I also felt like the first 100-200 pages weren’t so much about Alexander and his life at the Metropol as what was going on around him and almost a setting of the stage.
Once I got into the second half of the book I was much more interested. The Count and his life had become so much more a part of the hotel by that point and I enjoyed reading about his life more than just him witnessing certain events. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed in the ending. I thought that it was going to wrap up nicely, but instead it’s a bit confusing and left open ended. After spending 400+ pages with Towles’ writing, I won’t say that I was surprised that that is how he chose to end the story, but it was still a little frustrating.
By: Amor Towles