January 01, 2017

Two Gentlemen, Two Novels

Amor Towles (Viking $27)

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov, whose family estate has been nationalized, and who has been living at Moscow’s Hotel Metropol deciding what to do next, is sentenced to indefinite house arrest in that hotel for penning a politically ambiguous poem.

As we become acquainted with Rostov, we realize he is a dinosaur: one of the last Russian gentlemen of his era. He is a symbol of the Elysian days that one character says “belonged in the past... with waistcoats and corsets, with quadrilles and bezique, with the ownership of souls, the payment of tribute, and the stacking of icons in the corner.”

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