A Gentleman in Moscow
There's a ton of love in the world for the novel A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. It's won a ton of awards and continues to be on the best sellers list week after week. A Gentleman in Moscow is the story of Count Alexander Rostov in the early 1900's when he's put on house arrest at the Hotel Metropol in Moscow. A lifetime sentence. There he has to figure out what his life looks like living in a hotel, never to leave its walls again.
On the surface, this novel sounded to me like it was going to be an exploration of how a 5-star hotel could be turned into a prison. But that's not this novel. Instead, it's an exploration of humanity, friendships, and one's purposes in life. These weighty topics are expertly woven into the Counts daily life and people who come in and out of the hotel. Towles, the author, does a masterful job of bringing actual events happening in Moscow and the world into the hotel and those that pass through it.
The writing in A Gentleman in Moscow is some of the best I've ever read. Towles is an expert in his craft. The majority of the dialogue is both witty and insightful. I can't tell you how many times this book made me take a step back and reflect on my own life. There are so many quotes and discussions in this book that will stick with me far after the close of the book.
And yet there's one big "but" for me with A Gentleman in Moscow. Like a fine wine, it takes its time to become brilliant. The first two "books" within A Gentleman in Moscow are slow, tedious, and at time monotonous. There's a level of "I'm going to push through" that one must have to get the real meat on the bones of this novel. Once we're introduced to some new faces in the later books the tale begins to really go places. Well as far as one can within the confines of a hotel.
Although I don't think this is a perfect novel, its darn close. If nothing else if you're wanting a true tour de force of the English language then this is the novel for me. As much as I would have liked the story to move faster, there was something brilliant about the slow malaise that fit with the Count and this novel.