A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow

by Amor Towles

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Overview

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

“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

He can’t leave his hotel. You won’t want to.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Civility—a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel.

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

Soon to be a major television series starring five-time Academy Award® nominee Kenneth Branagh.

“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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780670026197
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/06/2016
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 2,578
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Born and raised in the Boston area, Amor Towles graduated from Yale College and received an MA in English from Stanford University. His first novel, Rules of Civility, published in 2011, was a New York Times bestseller and was named by The Wall Street Journal as one of the best books of 2011. His second novel, A Gentleman in Moscow, published in 2016, was also a New York Times bestseller and was named as one of the best books of 2016 by the Chicago TribuneThe Washington PostThe Philadelphia Inquirer, the San Francisco Chronicle, and NPR. Both novels have been translated into over fifteen languages. Having worked as an investment professional for over twenty years, Mr. Towles now devotes himself full time to writing in Manhattan, where he lives with his wife and two children.

Read an Excerpt

From A Gentleman in Moscow:
(Continues…)



Excerpted from "A Gentleman in Moscow"
by .
Copyright © 2016 Amor Towles.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Reading Group Guide

Questions for Your Consideration:

1) In the transcript at the opening of A Gentleman in Moscow, the head of the tribunal and Count Rostov have the following exchange:

"Secretary Ignatov: I have no doubt, Count Rostov, that some in the galley are surprised to find you charming; but I am not surprised to find you so. History has shown charm to be the last ambition of the leisure class. What I do find surprising is that the author of the poem in question could have become a man so obviously without purpose.

Rostov: I have lived under the impression that a man’s purpose is known only to God.

Secretary Ignatov: Indeed. How convenient that must have been for you."

To what extent is A Gentleman in Moscow a novel of purpose? How does the Count’s sense of purpose manifest itself initially, and how does it evolve as the story unfolds?

2) Over the course of Book Two, why does the Count decide to throw himself from the roof of the Metropol? On the verge of doing so, why does the encounter with the old handyman lead him to change his plans?

3) The Count’s life under house arrest is greatly influenced by his relationship with four women: Nina, Marina, Anna, and Sofia. What is the nature of the Count’s relationship with each of these women? How do those relationships differ from his relationship with the members of the Triumvirate—Andrey and Emile?

4) The majority of A Gentleman in Moscow is told in the third person from the Count’s point of view. There is, however, an overarching narrator with a perspective different from the Count’s. Initially, this narrator appears in footnotes, then in the “Addendums,” then in the historical introductions of “1930,” “1938,” and “1946.” How would you characterize this narrator? How does he differ from the Count in terms of his point of view and tone of voice? What is his role in the narrative?

5) In the “1946” chapter, Mishka, Osip, and Richard each share with the Count his perspective on the meaning of the revolutionary era. What are these three perspectives? Are you inclined to agree with one of them; or do you find there is some merit to each?

6) One of the pleasures of writing fiction is discovering upon completion of a project that some thread of imagery has run through the work without your complete awareness—forming, in essence, an unintentional motif. While I was very conscious of the recurrence of tolling bells, keys, and concentric circles in the book, here are a few motifs that I only recognized after the fact: Packages wrapped in brown paper, such as the Maltese Falcon, Mishka’s book of quotations, the Russian nesting dolls discovered in the Italians’ closet, and the Count’s copy of Montaigne (in Paris). The likeness of stars, such as the freckles on Anna’s back and the beacon on the top of the Shukhov radio tower. Sailors (often in peril), such as Robinson Crusoe, Odysseus, Admiral Makarov, and Arion in the myth of Delphinus. What role do any of these motifs play in the thematic composition of the book? And if you see me in an airport, can you explain them to me?

7) How does the narrative incorporate the passage of time, and does it do so effectively? Thematically speaking, how does the Count’s experience of Time change over the course of the novel and how does it relate to his father’s views as embodied by the twice-tolling clock? What does the novel suggest about the influence of individuals on history and vice versa?

8) At the opening of Book Five, the Count has already decided to get Sofia out of Russia. What occurs over the course of Book Four to lead him to this decision? Why does he choose to remain behind?

9) Near the novel’s conclusion, what is the significance of the toppled cocktail glass in Casablanca?

10) This is a novel with a somewhat fantastical premise set half a century ago in a country very different from our own. Nonetheless, do you think the book is relevant today? If so, in what way?

11) Bonus Question: Who in the novel also appears in Rules of Civility?

Customer Reviews

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A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 147 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was one of the best I've read this year. It includes romance, intrigue, love, friendship, suspense, morality, ingenuity and more. You must read it. Read the synopsis and turn immediately to the story. You won't be disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a beautiful story. The Count has so much to teach us all. One of his best lessons for us is that youth, beauty and riches are not given to us but merely loaned to us. You begin wanting to know if he will ever be able to escape his confinement and you end up worried that he might leave. Even if you are not especially interested in this period of Russian history, this is still a five star read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Charming and challenging. Great characters. Lovely story. Found myself slowing my reading speed down to really appreciate the masterful writing that is this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didnt want this story to end
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best read in years. I rarely give a 5 star, this book deserves it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I rarely get a chance to enjoy brilliant writing. This book is a rare example of brilliant writing. I am enriched by having read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put it down yet couldn't wait to see how it ended. I was not disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great writing, truly wonderful read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It begins slow but hang in there. The story line picks up and you are drawn in to the life of the count and the many people who surrounds him. The writing is superb. Mr. Towle's use of language is beautiful. He is a delightful story teller. Read his first book Rules of Civility. Excellent. I hope we don't have to wait such a long time for his next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Romantic, fanciful, abounds in period history but most especially a story of decency and humanity in a period when decency was in short supply. Then and now.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel made me long to go back and reread many classics that I read in the distant past. What a clever plot. You must slow down and let the words encompass you. And read all annotations with the asterick as they appear, or read them at the end. So glad that I bought this wonderful book. I read Rules of Civility years ago and loved it also, but A Gentleman In Moscow is one I will continue to think about. I adored this novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would love to know a real person with the character of Count Rostov. What a man.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such brilliance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this story!! I love history, an entertaining story, great writing and well edited books....this book met everything on my check off list. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the same.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story & very well written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At the center of this book is an unusual and captivating story of a man under house arrest in a 5-star hotel for more than 30 years. Around that story, quietly and unobtrusively, is the story of Russian/Soviet history, from the revolution to Stalin’s death—as experienced by man who cannot leave the hotel. The author’s artistry in that perspective is a unique achievement. Easily the best book I read this year.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The writing was outstanding. The Count lived & breathed life lessons & attitudes that all can benefit from. The story was sweet and inspiring.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book more than any book I’ve read recently. It is a story of endurance, patience and love. Loyalty too. Just so well written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A simple story yet I enjoyed following the adventures of the wonderful characters. A pleasure to read such a well written book that doesn't rely on chase sequences to keep you turning the page. You'll love The Count and his charm, wit and attitude towards life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Forever a favorite. Beautiful writing and I never wanted it to end .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A slow starter. Gears up gradually. Then it goes like a roller coaster that the reader cannot, will not, leave.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Here is a story of endearing characters, people one might wish to have as friends. Here is a story one might wish was true. Of course, it is not all sweetness and light, it has its share of characters one might hope to never encounter. It has suspense, drama, and tragedy. It also has joy, love, and contentment. It’s voice, the voice of it’s telling, is calm and confident, dry and unobtrusive.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very enjoyable. Good Characters
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! I liked the writing style and the character development. The characters seemed to jump right off of the pages at you. The main character was truly a Gentleman and a gentle man. When he said there is a difference between being resigned to a situation and being reconciled to it I think that was how he endured his house arrest for decades with such grace. He was a true friend to all. He was so perceptive. When Nina said he knew her better than anyone, it was true. He was like a second father to her and he was a real father to her daughter Sophie. I highly recommend this book. I am eager to discuss it at book club.