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Thoughtful novel set in early 20th Century Moscow

15th October 2019

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, novel set in early 20th Century Moscow.

Wow! Just look at all these accolades:

OVER A MILLION COPIES SOLD
THE TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR 2017
A SUNDAY TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR 2017
A MAIL ON SUNDAY BOOK OF THE YEAR 2017
A DAILY EXPRESS BOOK OF THE YEAR 2017
AN IRISH TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR 2017
ONE OF BARACK OBAMA’S BEST BOOKS OF 2017
ONE OF BILL GATES’S SUMMER READS OF 2019
NOMINATED FOR THE 2018 INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLERS WEEK AWARD

Set against a period of huge upheaval in Russia, this is a novel to charm and inform. A novel for anyone choosing to stay at the Metropol Hotel in Moscow too!

Alexander Ilyich Rostov – an aristocrat, well-mannered and erudite – is incarcerated in the hotel, taken from his luxurious lodgings and forced to stay in attic accommodation, far removed from the comfort to which he is accustomed. The Bolsheviks are now running the country and the intelligentsia and upper echelons of society are getting their comeuppance.  Alexander is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat. He is one of the fortunates who have neither been sent to Siberia nor faced a firing squad. These were incredibly turbulent times in the history of Russia.

The hotel is his bubble where he can live – almost – in a parallel universe, although events beyond the hotel’s walls do intrude significantly at times. The gilded cage certainly has its charms but it also demands a fundamental shift in attitude and thinking.

The novel is at times whimsical, and it is so well written with a quiet humour. The author is a fabulous wordsmith. Yes, it is a languorous story with characters who are likeable and observations that are acute. Some may find it a tad slow. It certainly took me some time to move through the pages as the Count acclimatises and adapts.

This is a work of fiction that weaves in historical events and thus it is informative without being didactic. It is beautifully written. There are few loose ends but as a polished piece of literature, it will probably become a classic. It is a real evocation of another time and world. It is also a vivid story of the Metropol Hotel itself.

Tina for the TripFiction Team

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