Rules of Civility, by Amor Towles. Pub 2011
Another post-Christmas top-up-of-the-tsundoku, I’ve been looking forward to this one ever since I finished A Gentleman in Moscow last year. And this one did not disappoint – I finished it in just 2 days.
Set primarily in 1938 in New York, the novel has one Katie Kontent tell her story of that year and the people that populated her life at the end of the Depression and ahead of the boom of WWII. By dint of her personality and fortitude, Katie navigates the various societies of Manhattan with both wonder and perspicacity, charting a course for herself and dealing with setbacks and opportunities alike with surprising aplomb. That year becomes a turning point for her and for those in her life, and like most of us, she only recognizes that turning point in her life in hindsight.
Towles’ writing is remarkable, especially as a male author telling the story from a female perspective. He is insightful, kind, clear, and most of all relatable. While some of the stories and situations might seem too fantastic in the hands of another writer, Towles make them all believable and natural, and Katie’s decisions and revelations and feelings are all bang-on. He also captures the beauty and romance of New York from all angles, from the seedy squalor to the gorgeous glamour. His use of that pivotal year in history as the milestone for Katie’s life is masterful. Like with Moscow, he has you hooked the story and characters early, and presents a page turning story from start to finish.
The tragedy of this for me is that Towles has only these two books, so other than online stories and articles there is nothing further to read until his next book comes out later in 2021 (which I will likely save until 2022, if for no other reason than I need it to fit into a book club category…).
Fate: will pass along to a friend.
#33 – wild card