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A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel by [Amor Towles]

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A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 46,600 ratings

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Popular Highlights in this book

From the Publisher

Amor Towles

Editorial Reviews


"The novel buzzes with the energy of numerous adventures, love affairs, [and] twists of fate."
The Wall Street Journal

"If you're looking for a summer novel, this is it. Beautifully written, a story of a Russian aristocrat trapped in Moscow during the tumult of the 1930s. It brims with intelligence, erudition, and insight, an old-fashioned novel in the best sense of the term."
—Fareed Zakaria, "Global Public Square," CNN

"Fun, clever, and surprisingly upbeat . . .
A Gentleman in Moscow is an amazing story because it manages to be a little bit of everything. There’s fantastical romance, politics, espionage, parenthood and poetry. The book is technically historical fiction, but you would be just as accurate calling it a thriller or a love story.”
—Bill Gates

“The book is like a salve. I think the world feels disordered right now. The count’s refinement and genteel nature are exactly what we’re longing for.”
Ann Patchett

“How delightful that in an era as crude as ours this finely composed novel stretches out with old-World elegance.”
—The Washington Post

“[A] wonderful book at any time . . . [I]t brought home to me how people find ways to be happy, make connections, and make a difference to one another’s lives, even in the strangest, saddest and most restrictive circumstances.”
—Tana French, author of The Searcher

Chicago Tribune

“The novel buzzes with the energy of numerous adventures, love affairs, twists of fate and silly antics.”
The Wall Street Journal
“A winning, stylish novel.”

“Enjoyable, elegant.”
Seattle Times

“The perfect book to curl up with while the world goes by outside your window.”

“Who will save Rostov from the intrusions of state if not the seamstresses, chefs, bartenders and doormen? In the end, Towles’s greatest narrative effect is not the moments of wonder and synchronicity but the generous transformation of these peripheral workers, over the course of decades, into confidants, equals and, finally, friends. With them around, a life sentence in these gilded halls might make Rostov the luckiest man in Russia.”
The New York Times Book Review

“This is an old fashioned sort of romance, filled with delicious detail. Save this precious book for times you really, really want to escape reality.” 
—Louise Erdrich

“Towles gets good mileage from the considerable charm of his protagonist and the peculiar world he inhabits.”
The New Yorker

“Irresistible . . . In his second elegant period piece, Towles continues to explore the question of how a person can lead an authentic life in a time when mere survival is a feat in itself . . . Towles’s tale, as lavishly filigreed as a Fabergé egg, gleams with nostalgia for the golden age of Tolstoy and Turgenev.”
O, The Oprah Magazine

“‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ and ‘Eloise’ meets all the Bond villains.”

“And the intrigue! . . . [
A Gentleman in Moscow] is laced with sparkling threads (they will tie up) and tokens (they will matter): special keys, secret compartments, gold coins, vials of coveted liquid, old-fashioned pistols, duels and scars, hidden assignations (discreet and smoky), stolen passports, a ruby necklace, mysterious letters on elegant hotel stationery . . . a luscious stage set, backdrop for a downright Casablanca-like drama.”
The San Francisco Chronicle

“The same gorgeous, layered richness that marked Towles’ debut,
Rules of Civility, shapes [A Gentleman in Moscow].”
Entertainment Weekly

Praise for Rules of Civility

“An irresistible and astonishingly assured debut."
O, the Oprah Magazine

“With this snappy period piece, Towles resurrects the cinematic black-and-white Manhattan of the golden age…[his] characters are youthful Americans in tricky times, trying to create authentic lives.” 
The New York Times Book Review

“Sharp [and] sure-handed.” 
Wall Street Journal

“Put on some Billie Holiday, pour a dry martini and immerse yourself in the eventful life of Katey Kontent."

“[A] wonderful debut novel.” 
The Chicago Tribune

“Glittering…filled with snappy dialogue, sharp observations and an array of terrifically drawn characters…Towles writes with grace and verve about the mores and manners of a society on the cusp of radical change.” 

“A book that enchants on first reading and only improves on the second.” 
The Philadelphia Inquirer Review

An Amazon Best Book of September 2016: A Gentleman in Moscow is the utterly entertaining second novel from the author of Rules of Civility. Amor Towles skillfully transports us to The Metropol, the famed Moscow hotel where movie stars and Russian royalty hobnob, where Bolsheviks plot revolutions and intellectuals discuss the merits of contemporary Russian writers, where spies spy, thieves thieve and the danger of twentieth century Russia lurks outside its marbled walls. It’s also where wealthy Count Alexander Rostov lives under house arrest for a poem deemed incendiary by the Bolsheviks, and meets Nina. Nina is a precocious and wide-eyed young girl who holds the keys to the entire hotel, wonders what it means to be a princess, and will irrevocably change his life. Despite being confined to the hallway of the hotel, the Count lives an absorbing, adventure-filled existence, filled with capers, conspiracies and culture. Alexander Rostov is a character for the ages--like Kay Thompson’s Eloise and Wes Anderson’s M. Gustav, he is unflinchingly (and hilariously for readers) devoted to his station, even when forced to wait tables, play hide and seek with a young girl, or confront communism. Towles magnificently conjures the grandeur of the Russian hotel and the vibrancy of the characters that call it home. --Al Woodworth, The Amazon Book Review --This text refers to the hardcover edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B01COJUEZ0
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin Books (September 6, 2016)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ September 6, 2016
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 4459 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 465 pages
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 46,600 ratings

About the author

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Amor Towles is the author of New York Times bestsellers RULES OF CIVILITY and A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW. The two novels have collectively sold more than four million copies and have been translated into more than thirty languages. His new novel, THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY, will be released on October 5, 2021. His short stories have appeared in The Paris Review, Granta, and Vogue. Having worked as an investment professional for more than twenty years, Towles now devotes himself fulltime to writing in Manhattan, where he lives with his wife and two children.

Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
46,600 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on May 15, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on January 13, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on July 14, 2018
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Modern Masterpiece! My BEST and FAVORITE Book Read in 2018!
Reviewed in the United States on July 14, 2018
'A Gentleman In Moscow' is by far the BEST book I've read all year. Without question!

I read this delightful novel during the hellish, three-digits heatwave in southern California in July of 2018. If you know anything about southern California heat, it is anything but fun or smile-inducing. Yet, despite the Dante's inferno hellscape that I was physically in while reading this delicious literary treat, this extraordinary book had me smiling and magically whisked away to a non-colluding Russia of the 1920s that would enchant even the most crotchety. Batting my eyes, sighing, lightly tapping my chest, and saying the words "be still my heart" is the feeling this exceptional piece of literature invokes in me every time I think about it. Long after turning the last page, 'A Gentleman In Moscow' is still with me, beating my heart to a pleasant mush.

The novel tells the fantastical tale and chronicles the life of a Russian Count, Alexander Ilyich Rostov, who was once part of the Russian aristocracy with close ties to the Tsar and Tsarina prior to the revolution. Due to his familial and political ties pre-revolution, plus his life of opulence that is now deemed symbolic of the old Russia, he is exiled. The full extent of the Count's punishment however is that he is placed under house arrest in the attic of the world renowned Metropol Hotel in Moscow "for the rest of his days," in lieu of being shot. While at the Metropol, he "masters his circumstances before his circumstances get the better of him." He befriends and interacts with a kaleidoscope of hotel associates and hotel guests, each of who are just as unique, lovable, quirky, funny, eccentric, curious, and extraordinary as the Count himself.

As my review's title indicates, 'A Gentleman In Moscow' is the BEST book I've read in 2018 and despite five months remaining in the year, I doubt that any book will topple its distinction in my mind. This is the first book by author Amor Towles that I'm reading and he is now firmly planted as one of my favorite authors. According to his bio, Towles graduated from Yale University and received an MA in English from Stanford University and boy does this academic prowess show in his writing. Towles' choice of story structure, his intelligent diction and syntax, his masterful crafting of the brilliant plot, and the poetic, sometimes dreamlike storytelling is unlike anything else I've read in a long while. All of the characters introduced are broad and serve an intrinsic purpose.The Count, the titular gentleman in Moscow, is an in-depth character study of a man in exile who does not let the fancy hotel prison get the better of his wits as life goes on around him.

The entire time while reading, there was hardly a moment that I was not smiling at the words in front of me. Cerebral, charming, delightful, and so wonderfully jovial, with moments of sadness and deep contemplation, 'A Gentleman In Moscow' is in my opinion a literary masterpiece. The first 167 pages have a slightly caliginous, obscure tone. In the vein of magical realism, the reader will be delighted but might find themselves unsure of the state of the main and supporting characters during this section. By this I mean that I on several occasions between pages 1-167, thought the characters were all dead and were simply ghosts revisiting their previous social lives. To be clear, they are not ghosts and are in fact more alive than you and I. Right on page 171, like a blooming flower in Spring, the book opens up with a beautiful and bright flourish that tickles the senses thereafter. As the plot moved along in perfect pitch and pace, my heart would swell and my smile widen ear to ear each time Count Rostov interacted with the characters Sofia, Anna, Nina, and the two additional members of the Triumvirate. Even the Bishop, an irascible and frustrating character provides moments of levity.

The setting of the novel is a world famous opulent hotel that sees all manner of events taking place with scrumptious, delicious food being served with all the pomp and circumstance of proper fine dining. In that regard, Towles gave the Count the heart and mind of a seasoned, well traveled bon vivant who knows high-end cuisine with an exceptionally refined taste. I am a classically trained chef and I've worked in many high-end hotels and high-end kitchens and I must say, I was thoroughly impressed with the snappy and clever level to which the author imparted food and wine into the count's tale. From the preparation and serving of authentic dishes, to the wine varietals, to the top-notch appellations and vintages, to the detailed pairings, I was wide-eyed and dazzled because it was all on point. Without pretension, the descriptions were a truthful account of the etiquette of respectable cuisine. Because of my own culinary acumen and epicurean sensibilities, I am always looking for the use of food and wine symbolism in books I read and in movies/TV shows I watch. 'A Gentleman In Moscow' is perhaps one of the best iterations I've encountered in a long time. This book will be pure delight for the lover of fancy food and for the gastronomes and epicures like me who are in the know.

Along with the exceptionally intriguing plot, lovable characters, and artful display of food & wine, another masterful and much appreciated talent the author exhibited in the book was his writing of women. Towles treats each of his female characters with care, respect, and reverence. So much so that the precociousness of Nina and Sofia is never tiresome or irksome, but instead, the young ladies are witty, smart, and can hold their own against any adult in the book. Sofia will achingly break your heart with pride and adoration of her, while Nina will have you in stitches due to her droll wit. Equally as commendable is the respect and dignity Towles gives the Anna and Marina characters, without ridicule or making them into caricatures or bores. Anna ages and matures with grace and an air of regality, while still retaining her sexiness and zest for life.

At the exception of Shakespeare's 'Romeo & Juliet,' when it comes to critically acclaimed works of literature, I don't usually like love stories that consume a book's entire plot. However, the love affair between Count Rostov and Anna Urbanova was beautifully done. Delicate and sweet without over-saturation and without being all consuming, their love was just the right amount of sentimentalism that was needed for it to be believable to the book's plot. This is important, especially taking into consideration that the Count is in fact in prison. The Count and Anna are two adults who banter and playfully laugh at the others' weaknesses, all while displaying affection and deep admiration for the other. I smile right now just thinking about their coy, yet amazingly sexy rendezvous throughout the book. Trust me, it's good and will make you giggle and smile with bashful contentment. Their lovemaking is tender and packs a smashing punch. Good stuff!

In the middle, in between, and around all this magic and wonderment in Moscow, is Count Rostov. A fictional man who my schoolgirl heart thinks is darn near perfect. The Count is intelligent, witty, traveled, assertive, and generous, with a sly but kind sense of humor. He is nostalgic but sensible, without harboring ill will or bitterness around his circumstances. He is also very funny. Above all, the Count is a man who knows and tests his own limits, with his head held up high in honesty and appreciation of those around him. Simply put, Count Alexander Rostov is my kind of guy and my kind of character. He can lyrically make love to a woman in a manner that would make Casanova smile and concurrently make Cupid blush, while two hours later, he can recite the best vintages of Chateau d'Yquem and Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Come now, what's not to love? The Count may not be real, but if he were, best believe I'd be fighting Anna Urbanova for his affections.

By now, I'm sure you can deduce that I LOVED this book and everything about it. I adored it cover to cover, page in page out and I had a lovely time reading it. Through brilliant prose that has captured and enchanted my soul, Amor Towles has achieved something special, something masterful. Something extraordinary. From my perspective, writing like Towles' is exceptional and rare. It is intelligent without being pretentious, it is vivid without being suffocatingly overwrought, and it is relatable without being cloyingly sweet or cliched. Everything about 'A Gentleman In Moscow' is what I look for in good reads and this book was a winner in all sense of the word. Mr. Towles in my opinion is a magnificent author and I could not recommend this novel enough as an entry into his talent as a writer and masterful storyteller. I have zero negatives to say about the book and I plan on reading it repeatedly for years to come.

For serious readers of literary fiction, readers who have an appreciation for historical fiction, lovers of books that have solid character portrayals, serious readers who love an ensemble mix of characters that are each wonderful in their own way - 'A Gentleman in Moscow' is for each and every one of you. I highly, highly, highly recommend it and would give it 10-Stars if permitted. It thoroughly deserves the full 5-Stars. Get to reading and if you are over 21, sip an aromatic brandy or savor a robust, well rounded glass of French red wine while doing so. Cheers!
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Reviewed in the United States on July 14, 2018
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1.0 out of 5 stars complete nonsense
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sincere, compassionate, witty and elegant: a complete gem
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2.0 out of 5 stars I can't see what all the fuss is about
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 20, 2018
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read on so many levels!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 7, 2018
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5.0 out of 5 stars Life of an Exile, Soul of a Gentleman.
Reviewed in India on April 26, 2017
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