Review: A Gentleman in Moscow
I don’t normally share adult fiction here but this recently read novel is pure magnificence and deserves attention. I value stories that illuminate the dingier parts of history, especially histories that are not that old, like this one. Teens should therefore find A Gentleman in Moscow particularly fascinating. A Gentleman in Moscow is a story of grand proportions, immense character and infinite humor. And like all stories of colossal significance, those most successful and long remembered, it is utterly transformative. Therein lies the poetic essence of this tale; it’s essentially about the multitude of ways we are transformed by life as it itself yields to constant change.
Count Alexander Rostov's life is one of continual transformation despite the fact that his current habitat confined within the walls of the Hotel Metropol under house arrest remains static. The Count is a gentleman of former prestige and aristocratic bearing whose main occupation of the bourgeois is as observer. His ability to discern and distinguish, learn and anticipate from behind the palms of the Metropol rivals Sherlock Holmes. He is a master of reason. A scholar of circumstance, resourceful and canny. Literal and subtly ludicrous. He is a connoisseur of the finest things life can bestow upon a person even when it is not. His story, told through five books and almost as many decades, mesmerises and transforms.
Every word in this book is endowed with intelligence, wit and elegant emotion, all garnished with generous servings of history served up in a way that encourages you to want for more. Up until this novel my understanding of the Russian Revolution, the Bolsheviks and Proletariat political situation was somewhat peripheral. Rostov's tale allows the reader several exquisite points of view that simultaneously rouse and educate.
At its heart this story is also about endurance and a person's emotional plasticity to let go, move on, adapt - survive, as demonstrated time and time again by Rostov who opts to (and is sometimes forced to) shed many of his bourgeois traits in favour of moving forward.
This story makes you weep and laugh out loud. It astounds and fortifies. It entertains and heartens. It is pure magic with more subtle nuances to absorb and suggestions of hope to adopt than I can possibly articulate because it has, in no small way, transformed me. And in the manner of the rich scent of a gentleman's expensive cologne, it lingers in ones senses, heart and mind long after that gentleman has left the room.
Five and a half out of five stars with a shout-it-from-the-rooftop-of-the-Hotel Metropol-must-read recommendation!
Title: A Gentleman In Moscow
Author: Amor Towles
Publisher: Penguin Random House, $17.99
Publication Date: March 2019
For ages: 15+
Type: Adult Fiction