Rules of Civility

Rules of Civility

4.2 440
by Amor Towles
     
 

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A sophisticated and entertaining debut novel about an irresistible young woman with an uncommon sense of purpose.

Coming this fall, A Gentleman in Moscow – the highly anticipated new novel from Amor Towles

Set in New York City in 1938, Rules of Civility tells the story of a watershed year in the life of an

Overview

A sophisticated and entertaining debut novel about an irresistible young woman with an uncommon sense of purpose.

Coming this fall, A Gentleman in Moscow – the highly anticipated new novel from Amor Towles

Set in New York City in 1938, Rules of Civility tells the story of a watershed year in the life of an uncompromising twenty-five-year- old named Katey Kontent. Armed with little more than a formidable intellect, a bracing wit, and her own brand of cool nerve, Katey embarks on a journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool through the upper echelons of New York society in search of a brighter future.

The story opens on New Year's Eve in a Greenwich Village jazz bar, where Katey and her boardinghouse roommate Eve happen to meet Tinker Grey, a handsome banker with royal blue eyes and a ready smile. This chance encounter and its startling consequences cast Katey off her current course, but end up providing her unexpected access to the rarified offices of Conde Nast and a glittering new social circle. Befriended in turn by a shy, principled multimillionaire, an Upper East Side ne'er-do-well, and a single-minded widow who is ahead of her times, Katey has the chance to experience first hand the poise secured by wealth and station, but also the aspirations, envy, disloyalty, and desires that reside just below the surface. Even as she waits for circumstances to bring Tinker back into her orbit, she will learn how individual choices become the means by which life crystallizes loss.

Elegant and captivating, Rules of Civility turns a Jamesian eye on how spur of the moment decisions define life for decades to come. A love letter to a great American city at the end of the Depression, readers will quickly fall under its spell of crisp writing, sparkling atmosphere and breathtaking revelations, as Towles evokes the ghosts of Fitzgerald, Capote, and McCarthy.

Editorial Reviews

Liesl Schillinger
With this snappy period piece, Towles resurrects the cinematic black-and-white Manhattan of the golden age of screwball comedy, gal-pal camaraderie and romantic mischief…
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
In his smashing debut, Towles details the intriguing life of Katherine Kontent and how her world is upended by the fateful events of 1938. Kate and her roommate, Evelyn Ross, have moved to Manhattan for its culture and the chance to class up their lives with glamour—be it with jazz musicians, trust fund lotharios, or any man with a hint of charm who will pay for dinner and drinks. Both Kate and Evelyn are enamored of sophisticated Tinker Grey, who they meet in a jazz club; he appears to be another handsome, moneyed gent, but as the women vie for his affection, a tragic event may seal a burgeoning romance's fate. New York's wealthy class is thick with snobbery, unexpected largesse, pettiness, jealousies, and an unmistakable sense of who belongs and who does not, but it's the undercurrent of unease—as with Towles's depiction of how the upper class can use its money and influence to manipulate others' lives in profoundly unsavory ways—that gives his vision depth and complexity. His first effort is remarkable for its strong narrative, original characters and a voice influenced by Fitzgerald and Capote, but clearly true to itself. (July)
the Oprah Magazine O
"The new novel we couldn't put down…in the crisp, noirish prose of the era, Towles portrays complex relationships in a city that is at once melting pot and elitist enclave – and a thoroughly modern heroine who fearlessly claims her place in it."
Wall Street Journal
"This very good first novel about striving and surviving in Depression-era Manhattan deserves attention…The great strength of Rules of Civility is in the sharp, sure-handed…evocation of Manhattan in the late '30s."
People
"Put on some Billie Holiday, pour a dry martini and immerse yourself in the eventful life of Katey Kontent…[Towles] clearly knows the privileged world he's writing about, as well as the vivid, sometimes reckless characters who inhabit it."
The San Francisco Chronicle
"Even the most jaded New Yorker can see the beauty in Amor Towles' Rules of Civility, the antiqued portrait of an unlikely jet set making the most of Manhattan."
Redbook
"Part love story, part social observation, 100 percent absorbing."
Good Housekeeping
"It's the Depression, and a gal Friday with a mouth like Dorothy Parker's is dallying with the smart set…turns out she's not the only climber. A joyride through the ups and downs of 1930s high society."
From the Publisher
 
Praise for Rules of Civility

“An irresistible and astonishingly assured debut about working class-women and world-weary WASPs in 1930s New York…in the crisp, noirish prose of the era, Towles portrays complex relationships in a city that is at once melting pot and elitist enclave – and a thoroughly modern heroine who fearlessly claims her place in it.” —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

“This very good first novel about striving and surviving in Depression-era Manhattan deserves attention…The great strength of Rules of Civility is in the sharp, sure-handed evocation of Manhattan in the late ‘30s.” —Wall Street Journal

“Put on some Billie Holiday, pour a dry martini and immerse yourself in the eventful life of Katey Kontent…[Towles] clearly knows the privileged world he’s writing about, as well as the vivid, sometimes reckless characters who inhabit it.” —People

“[A] wonderful debut novel…Towles [plays] with some of the great themes of love and class, luck and fated encounters that animated Wharton’s novels.” —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.” —NPR.org

 
“Glamorous Gotham in one to relish…a book that enchants on first reading and only improves on the second.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer

Library Journal
On New Year's Eve 1937, at a jazz bar in New York's Greenwich Village, Katey and Eve are charmed by the handsome and successful Tinker Grey. The three become fast friends and spend early 1938 exploring the town together, until a car accident permanently injures Eve. Feeling guilty, Tinker, the driver, takes care of Eve and unsuccessfully tries to love her. Despite the presence and initial impact of Tinker and Eve, though, this first novel is about Katey's 1938. Eve moves on, and Tinker fades, but Katey, the narrator, stays to challenge the New York bourgeois unwaveringly with her acerbic wit, capturing the attention of several doting men. She quits her job as a typist and pursues a career as editor of a respected, if risqué, society magazine. And Katey does it without a handout (she thinks). VERDICT Historical love story. Snappy dialog and sophisticated characters. A romantic look at the difficulties of being a New Yorker. But not, as the publisher suggests, reminiscent of Fitzgerald, though similar themes (class, betrayal, despair) arise. This novel would, however, make a nice (contemporary) companion to novels like The Great Gatsby and is thusly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 1/17/11.]—Stephen Morrow, Ohio Univ., Columbus
Kirkus Reviews

Manhattan in the late 1930s is the setting for this saga of a bright, attractive and ambitious young woman whose relationships with her insecure roommate and the privileged Adonis they meet in a jazz club are never the same after an auto accident.

Towles' buzzed-about first novel is an affectionate return to the post–Jazz Age years, and the literary style that grew out of it (though seasoned with expletives). Brooklyn girl Katey Kontent and her boardinghouse mate, Midwestern beauty Eve Ross, are expert flirts who become an instant, inseparable threesome with mysterious young banker Tinker Grey. With him, they hit all the hot nightspots and consume much alcohol. After a milk truck mauls his roadster with the women in it, permanently scarring Eve, the guilt-ridden Tinker devotes himself to her, though he and she both know he has stronger feelings for Katey. Strong-willed Katey works her way up the career ladder, from secretarial job on Wall Street to publisher's assistant at Condé Nast, forging friendships with society types and not allowing social niceties to stand in her way. Eve and Tinker grow apart, and then Kate, belatedly seeing Tinker for what he is, sadly gives up on him. Named after George Washington's book of moral and social codes,this novel documents with breezy intelligence and impeccable reserve the machinations of wealth and power at an historical moment that in some ways seems not so different from the current one. Tinker, echoing Gatsby, is permanently adrift. The novel is a bit light on plot, relying perhaps too much on description. But the characters are beautifully drawn, the dialogue is sharp and Towles avoids the period nostalgia and sentimentality to which a lesser writer might succumb.

An elegant, pithy performance by a first-time novelist who couldn't seem more familiar with his characters or territory.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781444708875
Publisher:
Sceptre
Publication date:
01/28/2012
Age Range:
17 Years

Read an Excerpt

It was the last night of 1937.

With no better plans or prospects, my roommate Eve had dragged me back to The Hotspot, a wishfully named nightclub in Greenwich Village that was four feet underground.

From a look around the club, you couldn’t tell that it was New Year’s Eve. There were no hats or streamers; no paper trumpets. At the back of the club, looming over a small empty dance floor, a jazz quartet was playing loved-me-and-left-me standards without a vocalist. The saxophonist, a mournful giant with skin as black as motor oil, had apparently lost his way in the labyrinth of one of his long, lonely solos. While the bass player, a coffee-and-cream mulatto with a small deferential mustache, was being careful not to hurry him. Boom, boom, boom, he went, at half the pace of a heartbeat.

The spare clientele were almost as downbeat as the band. No one was in their finery. There were a few couples here and there, but no romance. Anyone in love or money was around the corner at Café Society dancing to swing. In another twenty years all the world would be sitting in basement clubs like this one, listening to antisocial soloists explore their inner malaise; but on the last night of 1937, if you were watching a quartet it was because you couldn’t afford to see the whole ensemble, or because you had no good reason to ring in the new year.

We found it all very comforting.

We didn’t really understand what we were listening to, but we could tell that it had its advantages. It wasn’t going to raise our hopes or spoil them. It had a semblance of rhythm and a surfeit of sincerity; it was just enough of an excuse to get us out of our room and we treated it accordingly, both of us wearing comfortable flats and a simple black dress. Though under her little number, I noted that Eve was wearing the best of her stolen lingerie.

Eve Ross . . .

Eve was one of those surprising beauties from the American Midwest.

In New York it becomes so easy to assume that the city’s most alluring women have flown in from Paris or Milan. But they’re just a minority. A much larger covey hails from the stalwart states that begin with the letter I—like Iowa and Indiana and Illinois. Bred with just the right amount of fresh air, roughhousing, and ignorance, these primitive blondes set out from the cornfields looking like starlight with limbs. Every morning in early spring one of them skips off her porch with a sandwich wrapped in cellophane ready to flag down the first Greyhound headed to Manhattan—this city where all things beautiful are welcomed and measured and, if not immediately adopted, then at least tried on for size.

One of the great advantages that the midwestern girls had was that you couldn’t tell them apart. You can always tell a rich New York girl from a poor one. And you can tell a rich Boston girl from a poor one. After all, that’s what accents and manners are there for. But to the native New Yorker, the midwestern girls all looked and sounded the same. Sure, the girls from the various classes were raised in different houses and went to different schools, but they shared enough midwestern humility that the gradations of their wealth and privilege were obscure to us. Or maybe their differences (readily apparent in Des Moines) were just dwarfed by the scale of our socioeconomic strata—that thousand-layered glacial formation that spans from an ashcan on the Bowery to a penthouse in paradise. Either way, to us they all looked like hayseeds: unblemished, wide-eyed, and God-fearing, if not exactly free of sin.

Hailing from somewhere at the upper end of Indiana’s economic scale, Eve was indisputably a natural blonde. Her shoulder-length hair, which was sandy in summer, turned golden in the fall as if in sympathy with the wheat fields back home. She had fine features and blue eyes and pinpoint dimples so perfectly defined that it seemed like there must be a small steel cable fastened to the center of each inner cheek which grew taut when she smiled. True, she was only five foot six, but she knew how to dance in two-inch heels—and she knew how to kick them off as soon as she sat in your lap.

That New Year’s, we started the evening with a plan of stretching three dollars as far as it would go. We weren’t going to bother ourselves with boys. More than a few had had their chance with us in 1937, and we had no intention of squandering the last hours of the year on latecomers. We were going to perch in this low-rent bar where the music was taken seriously enough that two good-looking girls wouldn’t be bothered and where the gin was cheap enough that we could each have one martini an hour. We intended to smoke a little more than polite society allowed. And once midnight had passed without ceremony, we were going to a Ukrainian diner on Second Avenue where the late-night special was coffee, eggs, and toast for fifteen cents.

But a little after nine-thirty, we drank eleven o’clock’s gin. And at ten, we drank the eggs and toast. We had four nickels between us and we hadn’t had a bite to eat. It was time to start improvising.

Eve was busy making eyes at the bass player. It was a hobby of hers. She liked to bat her lashes at the musicians while they performed and ask them for cigarettes in between sets. This bass player was certainly attractive in an unusual way, as most Creoles are, but he was so enraptured by his own music that he was making eyes at the tin ceiling. It was going to take an act of God for Eve to get his attention. I tried to get her to make eyes at the bartender, but she wasn’t in a mood to reason. She just lit a cigarette and threw the match over her left shoulder for good luck. Pretty soon, I thought to myself, we were going to have to find ourselves a Good Samaritan or we’d be staring at the tin ceiling too.

And that’s when he came into the club.

Eve saw him first. She was looking back from the stage to make some remark and she spied him over my shoulder. She gave me a kick in the shin and nodded in his direction. I shifted my chair.

He was terrific looking. An upright five foot ten, dressed in black tie with a coat draped over his arm, he had brown hair and royal blue eyes and a small star-shaped blush at the center of each cheek. You could just picture his forebear at the helm of a schooner—his gaze trained brightly on the horizon and his hair a little curly from the salt sea air.

—Dibs, said Eve.

What People are saying about this

J. Courtney Sullivan
"The best novels are the ones that completely transport you to another time and place. This beautifully written debut does just that. With wit, wisdom, and rich language, Towles introduces a cast of unforgettable 1938 New Yorkers, who change the book's heroine in surprising and absorbing ways." --(J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Maine)
From the Publisher
Praise for Rules of Civility

“An irresistible and astonishingly assured debut about working class-women and world-weary WASPs in 1930s New York…in the crisp, noirish prose of the era, Towles portrays complex relationships in a city that is at once melting pot and elitist enclave – and a thoroughly modern heroine who fearlessly claims her place in it.” —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

“This very good first novel about striving and surviving in Depression-era Manhattan deserves attention…The great strength of Rules of Civility is in the sharp, sure-handed evocation of Manhattan in the late ‘30s.” —Wall Street Journal

“Put on some Billie Holiday, pour a dry martini and immerse yourself in the eventful life of Katey Kontent…[Towles] clearly knows the privileged world he’s writing about, as well as the vivid, sometimes reckless characters who inhabit it.” —People

“[A] wonderful debut novel…Towles [plays] with some of the great themes of love and class, luck and fated encounters that animated Wharton’s novels.” —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.” —NPR.org

“Glamorous Gotham in one to relish…a book that enchants on first reading and only improves on the second.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer

Meet the Author

Amor Towles was born and raised in the Boston area.  He graduated from Yale University and received an MA in English from Stanford University.  An investment professional for over twenty years, he now devotes himself full time to writing.  His first novel, Rules of Civility, published in 2011, was a New York Times bestseller in both hardcover and paperback.  Towles lives in Manhattan with his wife and two children.

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Rules of Civility 4.2 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 440 reviews.
sblaser More than 1 year ago
I flew through Rules of Civility in two sittings -- two, only because I had to go to work in between! It's the kind of book you hope for in a summer read but can never quite seem to find: witty and fun without leaving you feeling like you've eaten cotton candy or insulting your intelligence. Towles' New York City is so textured -- from the gritty Lower East Side of the 30s to the smooth-like-velvet Upper East and West -- I found myself wanting to go back in time and drink a martini with his heroine, Katy Kontent and the wacky cast of characters she finds herself among. What a pleasure to have found a smart summer read!
Coconut_Librarian More than 1 year ago
Type: {Impress Your Friends Read: notable; prize-winner or all around intelligent crowd conversation piece.} Rating: {An Unputdownable: Couldn't eat or sleep until I finished this book.} Why You're Reading It: - You want to read the book that I am calling my favorite of the year, so far! - New York City, 1930's? You're hooked! - A smart, witty, & complex variety of characters are enough to convince you to read a book. - Beautiful prose, continuously moving plots, rich details, and convincing story lines make a book a keeper in your eyes. What I Thought: Hello, and welcome to New York City in the 1930's. Not only will you find the glamour, the music, the lingo, and the romance of one of the golden ages of the city, you will also meet one of the most refreshing protagonists in literature - Katey Kontent. Let's follow Miss Kontent through a flashback to the year of 1938 - a year that defined her life - and meet the exquisite cast of characters that Amor Towles creates on the pages of his debut novel, The Rules of Civility. Against the backdrop of a time when anyone could become anything and women were starting to make their own paths to the top, Towles creates a peephole back through time that has you turning page after page wishing you could actually be there, even just for a moment, to catch a glimpse of the sleek and confident Anne, the charming Tinker, the lively Eve, sweet and sincere Wallace, or intelligent, witty, down-to-earth Katey. (This is the second book of the year with a character named Wallace. Though I'm still waiting for a female Wallace to emerge in literature - this book's Wallace was a tribute to the name!) My very favorite read this year, landing a spot on my favorite books ever, I was absorbed by this delicious novel. Balancing the thin line between eating it up in one bite but knowing how much I would regret doing that once it was finished - I paced myself so that I could enjoy the company of this book for as long as possible. Towles did an extraordinary job of creating the scene, making realistic characters, and spinning a plot that a reader can care about. The lessons in these pages are timeless even if the era in which they are portrayed is exact (and thoroughly enjoyable). I highly, highly recommend this book to everyone. There are very few books that I re-read, but this will be one of them. The charming dialogue, the poignant passages, the intelligent references, and the three-dimensional characters make this poetic, philosophical book, about life and the individual experiences that shape it, fun to read and easy to digest. Over and over, I exclaimed to myself (out loud of course, because it doesn't count if people don't think you're crazy), "I love this book. I LOVE this book!" I also can not get over how much I adore the character of Katey; and how fast they will probably turn this into a movie (and probably should), but how very, very sad I'll be because this is a book that belongs to the imagination - it's that magical.
-Madison- More than 1 year ago
In Rules of Civility the setting is Manhattan in the late 1930's. I enjoyed the history of what New York City was like during that era through the eyes of a young woman surviving on her own in the city. The description of the culture of the carefree young in an exciting city was exciting to me. Kate, the main protagonist, is a smart, sassy independent girl who takes charge of her own life and if she isn't happy about something she fixes the problem. Frankly, I was surprised at the freedom women had from the perception I've always had before women's lib. I enjoyed the penetrating storyline so much, of its setting and the bigger ideas that are presented in the mix of people and social organizations, introspection, question of civility in all things. It was a much more social time when technology seems to limit the necessity. Madison Pridgen, A member of Between the Lines book club
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An utterly satisfying, elegant, literary and delicious novel that puts front and center one of the most charismatic narrators I've ever had the pleasure of spending time with. This is the story of Katey Kontent, inauspiciously born and raised by a Russian immigrant father on the Lower East Side, she's made her own way through gritty, Depression-Era New York to find herself holding her own in the secretarial pool of a white collar law firm. With her endlessly curious mind, originality and irreverence, she's clearly made for more, but it's not until a chance encounter with the patrician banker, Tinker Grey, that she is granted the possibilty of entree--for better and for worse--into an exclusive world of New York's Haute Monde. This is a coming-of-age novel, a love letter to New York City during a moment of artistic foment, a study of class and manners, and an unexpected love story wrapped in one. If you love Hornby, Nicholls, Melissa Bank, Midnight in Paris, Mad Men, Aaron Sorkin and/or Capote, you will not be able to resist this one.
gracegee More than 1 year ago
I was hooked from the first few pages. It had been awhile since I so fell in love with a main character. Such a great read, I felt like I was in 1938. I wish there was more!
GoodHeartedWoman More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this novel more than I've enjoyed anything else, in a long time. The characters are believable and well developed. I was very sad to see 1938 come to an end!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RULES OF CIVILITY is fun, sophisticated and witty! A fantastic debut by Towles; I couldn't put it down! Definitely a must-read for the summer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't know what to expect from this book. But I can say I couldn't put it down. Following Katey Kontent (that's content like happy not KON-tent like content of a book thank you very much) and her friend Eve, whom she affectionately calls Evey, is full of twists and turns and surprises that I didn't even see coming. It's characters and scenery of NYC during 1938 are so well evolved and scandalous and rich and beautiful and sumptuous, you can almost feel what they are wearing and eating and drinking and seeing! The writing, the story, the words are so sophisticated, so dreamy, so lifelike, you can picture the entire story in your head. I even starting seeing is a movie in my head and thinking of stars who would play the parts because the book so vividly takes you back to a bygone era of gin and whisky and jazz bars and good ol fashioned blue blood antics and sassafrass. It's a must read.
bookclubbed More than 1 year ago
Having been a voracious reader in a reading slump for many months, I was so delighted to have found "Rules of Civility" in my new books bag. I purchased this book for a book club and I am the first to read it. I can't wait to report to everyone I actually finished a book and was sorry to see it end. I rarely give glowing book reports because I think other members may be disappointed when they take the time to read my recommendation. In this case, I have no doubt all the members of my three book clubs will be delighted with this selection. I agree with the other reviewers in their accolades about the characters, the writing style, the transportation to other places, etc. This book was a guilty pleasure that made me stop everything just to read and to get totally lost in another time and place. More than just enjoying reading, this book made me think about the choices I had made along the way. I know "Rules..." was carefully researched and beautifully written and must have taken some time to complete but I am just hoping that I don't have to wait too long for Mr. Towles' next book. P.S. I was definitely surprised that was a male author.
Roxy0909 More than 1 year ago
It took me two days to read this book I couldn't put it down! It was well written and expressed every emotion possible. I was surprised by the ending of the book it definately shocked me. The characters were engrossing and the details to the era down to the clothes were awesome. I am recommeding this to my friends and family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could not recommend this book more highly. Beautifully written.
thewanderingjew More than 1 year ago
In the mid 1960’s, at a photography show, Katey Kontent tells her husband that she recognizes one of the subjects in two pictures. He is shown in two versions of himself, one as a rich man and another as a poor one. His upper crust photo is not the latest one, as her husband thought. Katey’s memory is jarred and the story proceeds backwards. almost thirty years, to the 1930’s and the time she met Theodore “Tinker” Grey. America has come out of the depression. Young people are finding work. Women have few opportunities to advance in the working world; secretarial skills are paramount. Seeking a husband, preferably well-heeled, is the goal of many. Social climbing has become an art form. This is a story about ambition, about how people behave, about their hopes and how they go about achieving them, about social justice and injustice, perception, true and false. It is as much about class distinction as it is about the blurring of those lines. There is a proper way to behave befitting those in polite society and those imposters, as well, that seek to join that rarefied atmosphere. Running through the book is a central theme about manners, manners based on a little primer, handwritten by George Washington, containing 110 rules of civility. They govern every conceivable kind of behavior, public and private, which a lady or gentleman or impersonator of such, would follow, to appear well-bred. It is as much about the arrogance of the rich as it is about the impertinence of the poor. It is a story about real people, how they seek happiness, friendship, love, about rivalry and misunderstandings, hopes and dreams. It is about which of our goals are important and why. It is about Katy, and those of her era, coming of age, coming into their own. The book is about wealth, the kind one is born to, the kind one dreams about. It is about civility and also about duplicity. There is so much deception that no one really knows anyone’s true background. It would seem the characters have all written a portion of their own biographies as they all impersonate different persona, sneaking in and out of the world of the rich and famous with aplomb and then back into the world of the working poor. The book makes it seem easy. The author defines the characters so well, you can visualize them. He uses every world with precision so that it has perfect pitch and meaning. The times and places are captured perfectly. The expressive use of vocabulary was a listening extravaganza. Because I listened to an audio, and there were so many characters, I did sometimes lose the thread of the dialogue. Even when I rewound, I couldn't recapture what I missed. Sometimes, places and characters appeared, seemingly at random, then disappeared and reappeared again later on. Occasionally, I was left unable to remember what role they played in the narrative. In a hard copy, I could easily have looked back. In the end, however, all the characters were accounted for and all the missing pieces were tied together and explained so I lacked nothing for having listened to, rather than read, the written word. The reader was excellent.
NatalieZ More than 1 year ago
Smart, witty, funny, exquisitely sophisticated and well written! Great characters set in the history of NYC truly evoke the aura of Fitzgerald & even at times a bit of O.Henry. One of the best books I've read in years, possibly ever! Mr. Towles would do the reading public a great service if he continued writing after this first novel...
Tine06 More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. I felt like I was actually experiencing 1938 in NYC. The book brought images of jazz clubs, the Plaza, and the 21 club to life. When people actually dressed up to go out and it was fashionable for women to smoke and drink gin. The only complaint, and it's not so much a complaint, is my expection of the book was that it was a story of a relationship between Katy and Tinker and that would be the main plot. But actually it was a year (1938) in the life of Katy Kontent and all of her relationships and experiences that year. Still a very enjoyable book. Made me think how I would be living in that era.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this book! If you liked The Great Gatsby - you'll enjoy Rules of Civility.
texas2012 More than 1 year ago
OH MY GOSH!!! What a read, absolutely worth reading. I was spellbound by the main character. You can see inside her soul. Could not put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You can hear the ice clinking in the martini glasses and smell the smoke in the tiny jazz clubs. A great read with a fascinating cast of characters headed by a sharp, well read heroine.
KimballSK More than 1 year ago
Rules of Civility is a series of beautifully written vignettes, each one a little love letter to New York City in the late 1930’s. The novel isn’t a series of short stories, technically, but it contains many small scenes that could function very on their own. The overall plot is just as captivating containing numerous twists and turns executed by well-developed characters. The scene is NYC 1938. The depression is almost over, the War to End All Wars has yet to begin and in this pause between historic upheavals, our main characters find themselves thrown together. Eve and Katey are a couple of girls with plenty of smarts and moxie, but not so much dough. Tinker is clever and kind and introduces the girls to a life of privilege and glamour. The question (as and will be) is how much does the “good life” really cost a person? Each character is beautifully developed (even the side characters) and I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in Katey's adventures.
catwak More than 1 year ago
This is the perfect book to read when you have a summer cold, which is how I read it. The heroine, Katey, has a pedigree that resembles Daisy Buchanan out of Lily Bart. Her moral compass in choosing among her options is almost too good to believe. The writing, particularly the dialogue and the descriptive evocation of place and time, is superb. (An example, summarizing a character's affinity for jazz: "It was everything he liked about the world: you could smoke to it, drink to it, chatter to it. And it didn't make you feel guilty for not giving it your full attention.") Nevertheless, I refuse to award more than 3 stars to any writer who doesn't acknowledge that "lay" is a transitive verb.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amor Towles first novel is a jaunt into the world of elegance, sophistication, and wealth that is New York City in the late 1930s. Ahead of her time and in a world so different from her own, Brooklyn born Katey Kontent finds herself immersed amongst her upper East-Side peers. After a chance encounter on News Year’s Eve at a second-rate Jazz club, Katey and her rebellious, Southern born boarding house roommate Evelyn Ross find themselves in the midst of the dashing Tinker Grey. What follows is a traffic car accident and a journey fraught with deception, indiscretion, romance, and betrayal. Towles’ challenges his audience to ponder whether perception is reality and whether wealth and pedigree ultimately lead to happiness and a discovery of true self. Rules of Civility is brilliantly written; with each sharp sentence so cleverly pulling the reader deeper into post-Depression, pre-WWII Manhattan. Not drowning with the politics of the time, but swimming with hope, happiness, and radiance, the reader cannot help but fall in love with the beauty of Towles' work.
Girls4Book-Enthusiast More than 1 year ago
My next book club recommendation is found! I loved this story! I read stacks of books to find one that I feel happy about sharing with my reading group, and this is my pick for this year! The late 30s in New York provided an intriguing culture and setting for the plot. The characters were fully developed, and the witty, snappy dialogue was a joy to read. Several surprising plot turns rivetted my attention. Rules of Civility is one of those books you can't wait to share with your friends!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story of the elite and the wannabees in 1938 Manhattan draws the reader into the golden age with its tapestry of youthful escapades. While painting a black-and-white visual of the characters, the book is rich in shades of grey - no one is all good or evil. The inclusion of literary references is plentiful, but not overdone, providing a beautiful backdrop of comparisons to aid in the understanding of the era. My only regret is that it ended too soon - I wanted more!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Certainly one of the best reads of the summer. The reader is drawn into 1937 with such passion that one cannot put this book down ! So beware: you will read this book into the wee hours of the morning! GREAT character development along with historical portrayals make this book a compelling read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is by far the best book I've read so far this year. Maybe it is because I grew up in the area and am familiar with the hotels and streets where the story takes place that took me back in time, but I did not want the story to end. I have recommended this book to many of my friends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just couldn't get into this book. The characters are superficial and left me feeling uninterested.