I’m finally back to enjoying a book club. It’s been years – years! – since I’ve been in a book club that consistently meets. It’s been a bit of an uphill battle. Either an established book club meets at a time I can’t meet or there is another issue (dictatorial leadership in a book club is not my thing). In December, we read A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. I loved – LOVED! – this book.
~ My Review~
I’m finding it hard to write a review for this magnificent book. I’m not sure where to begin. The prose was sublime. Towles is obviously an accomplished writer and storyteller. No wonder it takes him four years to write a novel. The novel was reminiscent of Russian literature (of which I’m a great fan). For example, Towles uses footnotes to write asides to the story. Russian writers love to do this. Lucky for us, the footnotes Towles uses are much shorter than those used by Russian writers.
I absolutely fell in love with the count. It was not ironic to call him a gentleman, because he certainly was one. He wasn’t a snob, though. He adapted quite well to his circumstances. Of course, his situation could have been much worse were it not for a certain poem. His little instructions regarding what it means to be a gentleman never failed to put a smile upon my face.
All of the secondary characters were a delight to read – even when the character was himself not exactly delightful. Of course, I loved Sofia. She was the perfect daughter for the perfect gentleman. But my favorites were the count’s cronies. I bet they were a bunch of fun to be around! Had it not been for the oppression of the Soviet Union, these three would have been troublemakers. Or should I say, even worse troublemakers!
As a lover of Russian history (yes, I’m a bit obsessed with Russia), I enjoyed how Towles intermixed history in the story. I was especially moved by the account of the dekulakization of Ukraine. He weaved this tidbit of history (and how misunderstood the slaughter was by the West) into the story seamlessly. As I read the story from my chair in my home in The Hague, I was transported to mid-20th Century Russia. When I looked up from my chair, I could almost see the Bolshoi in front of me. I was sad the story had to end.
I can’t recommend this book enough.