A Gentleman in Moscow, the new novel from Amor Towles, is a fresh, fun and joyful story about a usually dreary, depressing subject: life during the early decades of the Soviet Republic. Count Rostov, a young vestige of the Tsarist monarchy, is sentenced to life under house arrest by the new Bolshevik leaders. Yet the house in question is actually Moscow’s historic Metropol Hotel. From this elegant and central viewpoint, we see the arc of the Count’s life, as well as the fledgling nation outside. Through all of the colorful characters, fun antics, unexpected children, and the usual political absurdity, the Count holds onto the “gentleman” manners that define him as a light of salvation in a dark world. The novel is broad, spanning decades, and sometimes feels like a series of connected short stories, yet the Count and the Metropol are a world that is a delight to return to again and again.
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