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review 2020-05-02 15:32
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel - Amor Towles

This book was just what I needed. For starters the main character is forced to spend all of his time in one building. Granted that building has a five star restaurant, a full-service bar, and a barber shop that's allowed to operate but the man is stuck inside all the same. It kind of seems fitting right about now.


This was a charming book from start to finish. I adored the Count. I adored Nina. I adored Sophia. I adored everyone we met in this book. Even some of the high ranking Russian officials. The Count was one of those men it was impossible not to be charmed by. I can see where some readers might have an issue with this. People like characters to have obvious flaws. They like when bad things happen. They like brooding. The Count had obvious flaws and bad things did happen to him (You don't get forced into house arrest for the rest of your life for nothing. Well maybe in Communist Russia but it sure beats the firing squad.). The Count just wasn't the type to brood. That doesn't mean he was happy all the time either. The Count is much more complicated than that. Unless you read the book, you just won't understand it. 


When I first started this book, my immediate thought was it was much like an adult version of Eloise. The Count lives in the tippy top floor. The Metropol is much like the Plaza. The Count isn't quite as naughty as Eloise but he's not without his shenanigans. This comparison remained apt through out the novel's entirety. I think it lends to the charm.


Aside from the characters, I can see people taking issue with words themselves. The author has English related degrees from Yale and Stanford. His education is on full display at The Metropol. At times his word choices border on arrogant but it works. There is nothing wrong with an author who sets out to publish a smartly written book. At the end of the day, that's what this is. I get where that might rub people the wrong way. They may feel like he's insulting your intelligence. He's not. He's just displaying his own. What his own intelligence translates into is a lyrical work with more notable passages than I can track. 


This is one of those books I will heartily recommend to anyone who asks with the understand that they will either love it or loathe it. If you love it? Wonderful. If you loathe it? That's fine too. We're all different. 


Because I can't focus on just one thing at a time while I'm working on this, I have about 15 different browser tabs open. In one, there is a group discussion of this book where some talks about a movie that was rumored to be in production with Kenneth Branagh in the lead. I'm not opposed to that casting. I just don't think it works for the whole movie. The book starts with the Count in his early 30s. Branagh, while brilliant just might be a little too old to go start to finish. He definitely has the charm to pull it off. I would also like to throw Tom Hiddleston into the ring as a man who oozes charm. Again, the age thing might be problematic. Any one else who has read this book have any other suggestions? 


Dates read 4/24/2020-5/1/2020

Book 31/75


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text 2020-05-01 03:32
Reading progress update: I've read 229 out of 480 pages.
A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel - Amor Towles

I've been trying to read more than five pages at a time for what feels like forever. There are just too many interruptions. Not today. Today was one of those perfect weather days that demanded you be outdoors for the bulk of it. 


There's a little creek next to our house. The girls spent all afternoon trying to lure out turtles and catch bullheads with Cheetos. Thankfully, they didn't succeed at either of those things. Especially the bullheads. 


Meanwhile, I was able to plant myself in my favorite lawn chair on the bank and spend some quality time with the Count. 


I can absolutely see why people don't like this book. It's sophisticated, bordering on arrogant. The author uses words people don't hear in daily conversation. The author assumes a certain level of intelligence from his reader. I'm not really sure what else you would expect from a man who holds English degrees from Yale and Stanford. 


At this point, I don't see myself being one of those people who don't like this book. I'm finding it charming.It's lyrical. I was worried it would be a little too heavy for my current attention span. That isn't the case at all. 

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review 2020-04-27 19:03
A Gentleman in Moscow
A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel - Amor Towles

Not too much to say except I really loved this from beginning to end. Towles has a great character in Count Alexander Rostov. We follow the Count from his lock down at the Metropol from 1922 to the 1950s.



"A Gentleman in Moscow" opens on a trial in 1922. Count Alexander Rostov is being charged with crimes and threatened to be shot to death. However, because of his stance during his trial and him being the author of a famous poem he is eventually allowed to leave with one caveat. He has to stay in the Metropol for the rest of his life. If he ever leaves the hotel he will be immediately shot. He also is forced out of his luxury room surrounded by his family's heirlooms and lives in a tiny room in the attic of the hotel. We follow the Count through the years as he meets men and women who will change his life.


Through the Count we get to see a changing Russia, one that elevated nobility above all us to one that seemed determined to hide the ugliness under a Stalin regime. We hear bits and pieces about the Count's life prior to him living in the Metropol and start to put things together. I like that Towles did not just come out with things right away. I thought the Count was stiff at times, but his interaction with Nina, Anna, and then Sofia show how much he loves and wants to protect those around him. His philosophy about Russia through his interactions with his long-time friend and others was interesting to see. I never really studied Russian history beyond the requirements I needed to for my history degree. You get such an eye for the splendor that was Russia prior to the Revolutions. And you have to wonder about where the Bolsheviks totally in the wrong? I loved the arguments about how many in Russia were not able to read or feed themselves. So the Count had a ivory tower stance about the past that we see changes slightly over time. 


I loved all of the secondary characters even thought the jumping around at times confused me a bit due to the chapter headings saying "addendum." Nina was a pistol. Anna was great. And I did love Sofia too.  The Count also forms relationships with people in the know and even an American ambassador named Richard Wilshire that he spars with at times. 


The writing was beautiful and lyrical at times.  The ending was wonderfully done and made me smile. 

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text 2020-04-26 18:47
Reading progress update: I've read 63 out of 480 pages.
A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel - Amor Towles

What a fine feeling it had been to bring the hammer down squarely on the head of a nail, driving it through a plank into a fence post as the impact echoed in the morning air. But on the very first stroke of this hammer what the Count squarely hit was the back of his thumb. (Lest you have forgotten, it is quite excrruciating to hammer the back of your thumb. It inevitably prompts  a hopping up and down and the taking of the Lord's name in vain.)


But Fortune does favor the bold. So, while the next swing of the hammer glanced of the nail's head, on the third the Count hit home; and by the second nail, he had recovered the rhythm of set, drive, and sink - that ancient cadence which is not to be found in quadrilles, or hexameters, or Vronsky's saddlebags. 


It's possible I uttered a four letter word or two of my own when I envisioned a hammer hitting a thumb. 

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text 2020-04-25 23:29
Reading progress update: I've read 54 out of 480 pages.
A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel - Amor Towles

"The principal here is that a new generation owes a measure of thanks to every member of the previous generation. Our elders planted fields and fought in wars; they advanced the arts and sciences, and generally made sacrifices on our behalf. So by their efforts, however humble, they have earned a measure of our gratitude and respect."

-Count to Nina 


"And I will be sure to say please and thank you whenever I ask for things. But I have no intention of thanking people for things I never asked for in the first place."

-Nina to the Count


I already love the addition of Nina. 

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