Sunday, June 4, 2017

Towles, Amor (A Gentleman in Moscow)

This was a total delight to read, and mostly because it holds to its title throughout the entire book. Towles must be a gentleman in his own right, because he certainly does know how to write like one.

What I appreciated most about this book was its intent to tell a side of the communist revolution in Russia that we may not often hear about, i.e., from the aristocrat's point of view. Our protagonist learns how to live under house arrest in the new Russia, and almost the entire book is written inside the hotel he must never step foot outside. It's part cultural history lesson (but not preachy), part comedic adventure, and part "day in the life". It also ties everything up nicely, but I had rooted for the protagonist for so long, this did not bother me.

One thing surprised me: the book does skip across years, as needed for such a long tale, but there is nothing about the battle/siege of Moscow during WWII. In truth, there are some sentences around how the battle started and what it meant to both the Russians and the Germans, but there is no description of life inside the hotel during that time. I can't fathom why Towles would have left it out, unless it was simply too difficult to address how the effects of the battle would have impinged upon the hotel and those living there (there is very little "outside effect" in the rest of the novel).

No comments: