Book Reviews

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

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List Price: £12.99

 

Board book: 480 Pages.

Published: 09 February 2017 by Hutchinson

ISBN: 0091944244

EAN: 9780091944247

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.

Reviews

3.0 Stars3.0 Stars3.0 Stars  by Debra Found

Great First Half

This book begins in Moscow in 1922. Aristocratic Count Rostov is sentanced to house/hotel arrest for writing a poem several years before. This was seen as an act  against the state and Rostov sees himself fortunate that he has escaped with his life. Removed from the suite of rooms in the Metropole Hotel in which he had been living, Rostov finds himself in a tiny garret room. He lives in the hotel and becomes a party to the great many little actions which make the hotel run smoothly. Rostov has friends who visit from the outside and also friends within the hotel - the nine year old girl with whom he explores the depths of the hotel, the handyman with whom he shares coffee on the roof, the seamstress who mends his clothes...........

I was really taken with this book from the start. I liked Rostov who was determined not to let his standards slip despite being forced to live in the garret of the famous Metropole Hotel. He keeps up with the current affairs via his friends and the newspapers. He also hides behind a pillar and listens in on the many assemblies which are held in the hotel. Rostov is the gentleman with everyone he meets. The minute detail in which the hotel is described is wonderful and in places amusing. We also learn about Rostov's background with flashbacks to his younger days.

This was all very interesting and I was enjoying the book when it seemed to stop progressing. Nothing more seemed to be happening. There was no real progression of Rostov's life. In committing the main character to live permanently within the hotel, the author has naturally restricted the background for the story. Rostov isn't going anywhere so we only get small snippets of the outside world. The characters remain more or less the same and the setting is the same. There comes a point where the author has to find something new to add to the book in order to move the story forward. Unfortunately I came to a point about half way through the book where I felt that the story had ground to a halt. I read a few more chapters but I found myself reluctant to return to the story. I had to make a choice as to whether or not to complete the book  and I chose not to. There were a host of other books clamouring to be read and this one just wasn't pulling me back.

It is a great shame that this story ground to a halt in this way. I loved the whole idea and the main character but the author just failed to follow through on the early promise. It is possible that this patch in the middle was only a patch and the book improved later but having shown no signs of improvement for a few chapters I just wasn't interested enough to find out.

 
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