Thursday, 1 February 2018

A gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles

Count Alexander Rostov moved back to his beloved Russia after the Russian Revolution, because he did not want to desert his country. 
In 1922 he is sentenced to house-arrest, since he is considered to be a threat to the communist regime.

He is now a so-called Former Person and does not have any rights anymore. He cannot live in the suite he has lived in for the past years, but has to move to a small room in the attic. At first the count tries to fill his days with the essays of Montaigne, but these do not bring him much joy. 

But as it turns out it will be the people in the hotel, both staff and guests, who will help him through the coming thirty years. The count will make friends, turns his talents to good use and will even care for an adopted daughter.  

Count Rostov is a true gentleman and he is friendly and kind to all people around him. He does not step outside the hotel for the entire period between 1922 and 1954, except for once, during an emergency.

But his life is rich with both the memories of his childhood and the new friends he makes. From his old friend Mischa, the actress Anna, young Nina, the American diplomat Richard, the party-member Osip who hires the count to teach him about the West, the cook Emile and the maître d’ Andrey, all these people play a part in the life of the count, as he plays a part in theirs.

Sofia has a special place, she is his adopted daughter and turns out to be a talented pianist. For her the count will do anything to ensure she will have a future.

A gentleman in Moscow is a beautiful book about a very special man, a man you will come to love very much. And the book is not boring at all. Despite the fact that count Rostov spends 32 years in the hotel, the outside world does have its effect. The hunger, Stalins terror, WWII and many other things will influence the lives of the count and the people around him.

I loved the end when the count, who is an honourable man who would never betray his beloved Russia, goes against his own personal code of honour once. But you understand why he does this, it was the only thing he could do. The actions of the count are a bastion of civilization in a world that becomes very uncivilized.

There is some action towards the end and it is very exciting to read what the count planned and how things turn out. I loved the final scenes, they were not as I expected, but they were fitting and moving.

In the end I found it hard to say goodbye to count Alexander Rostov and I could only wish him the very best.

I have tried not to give too much away, since I think this is one of those books people should read themselves. Very beautiful, very good!

I read this book together with Lark, who also published her review today. As always, it was great to do this little reading project together. Thank you for wanting to read this book with me! 

Published in 2016
Pages: 462


  1. Jumped over here from Lark’s page. I need to read this one. I’m going to try to convince my book club to read it with me.

    1. Thank you for leaving a comment, I really appreciate it!
      It is a book well worth reading and good for a bookclub I think, much to be discussed.

      I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

      Kind regards,

  2. Great review, Bettina! I knew you'd be able to sum up this story better than me. And I found it hard to say good-bye to Count Rostov, too. :)

    1. Thank you, Lark, I really enjoyed reading the book together again. And I always love your reviews so much more than my own :-) You are much better at picking out the important things.

      I am curious to see what our next book will be :-)

      Kind regards,

  3. Hello Bettina - Came over from Lark's blog. Enjoyed reading your review. I read his first book Rules of Civility and really enjoyed it so now I know I have to add this to my list as well!

    1. Tahnk you Ilana, I appreciate that you leave a comment! I will put his first book on my wishlist, if it is anywhere as good as this book, I am sure I will love it.

      Kind regards,


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