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BOOK CLUB BUNDLES

Hi, I’m Lauren. The Library will provide books for your book club. Our book club bundles include 10 copies of the same title, along with a discussion guide. Check out available bundles when visiting the Library, or fill out the form below! Patrons can reserve book club bundles up to six months in advance. Our book club bundles are stored on the second floor for the public to browse and check out. Contact us at bookclub@gpld.org or call us at 630-232-0780 if you have questions.



A Gentleman in Moscow

by Amor Towles

GENRE: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

In 1922, Count Alexander Illyich Rostov is sentenced by the Bolsheviks to a life of house arrest in a grand Moscow hotel. Ever the gentleman, the Count watches as Moscow undergoes vast social and political changes throughout his lifetime, yet remains focused on personal growth through real human connection.

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author biography

Born and raised in the Boston area, Amor Towles graduated from Yale College and received an MA in English from Stanford University. 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.

Mr. Towles’s first novel, Rules of Civility, which was 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. The book has been translated into over 20 languages, its French translation receiving the 2012 Prix Fitzgerald.

Mr. Towles’s second novel, A Gentleman in Moscow, which was published in 2016, was on the New York Times bestseller list for over a year in hardcover and was named one of the best books of 2016 by the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the San Francisco Chronicle, and NPR. The book has been translated into over thirty-five languages including Russian. In the summer of 2017, the novel was optioned by EOne and the British director Tom Harper to be made into a 16 hour miniseries starring Kenneth Branagh.  - Author's website

More titles by this author.

reviews

Booklist

In his remarkable first novel, the best-selling Rules of Civility (2011), Towles etched 1930s New York in crystalline relief. Though set a world away in Moscow over the course of three decades, his latest polished literary foray into a bygone era is just as impressive. Sentenced as an incorrigible aristocrat in 1922 by the Bolsheviks to a life of house arrest in a grand Moscow hotel, Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is spared the firing squad on the basis of a revolutionary poem he penned as an idealistic youth. Condemned, instead, to live his life confined to the indoor parameters of Metropol Hotel, he eschews bitterness in favor of “committing himself to practicalities.” As he carves out a new existence for himself in his shabby attic room and within the magnificent walls of the hotel-at-large, his conduct, his resolve, and his commitment to his home and to the hotel guests and staff together form a triumph of the human spirit. As Moscow undergoes vast political changes and countless social upheavals, Rostov remains, implacably and unceasingly, a gentleman. Towles presents an imaginative and unforgettable historical portrait. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Publisher's Weekly

House arrest has never been so charming as in Towles’s second novel (following Rules of Civility), an engaging 30-year saga set almost entirely inside the Metropol, Moscow’s most luxurious hotel. To Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, the Metropol becomes both home and jail in 1922, when the Bolsheviks spare his life (on the strength of a revolutionary poem written in 1913, when the count was at university). Forbidden to venture out, Rostov explores the intricacies of the grand structure and befriends its other denizens: precocious nine-year-old Nina Kulikova, a bureaucrat’s daughter who demands instruction on how to be a princess; Emile, virtuosic chef of the Boyarsky, “the finest restaurant in Moscow”; Andrey, the Boyarsky’s French expatriate maître d’; and the beautiful actress Anna Urbanova, who becomes the count’s regular visitor and paramour. Standing in for the increasingly despotic Soviet government is the Bishop, a villainous waiter who experiences gradual professional ascent—he becomes headwaiter of the Boyarsky, finally putting his seating-chart and wine-pairing talents to use. But when the adult Nina returns to ask Rostov for a favor, his unique, precariously well-appointed life must change once more. Episodic, empathetic, and entertaining, Count Rostov’s long transformation occurs against a lightly sketched background of upheaval, repression, and war. Gently but dauntlessly, like his protagonist, Towles is determined to chart the course of the individual. (Sept.) Copyright 2016 PWxyz LLC

Library Journal

Having chronicled upper-crust 1938 New York in his elegant debut, Rules of Civility, Towles grandly unfolds the life of Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov in Soviet-era Moscow. The count is condemned by his past to permanent house arrest at the sumptuous Metropole Hotel, where he inhabits a tiny attic he's turned into a reflection of his rich interior life. Having expected to idle away his hours at his country estate, the count is initially at loose ends, his very values challenged. But he befriends little Nina, who teaches him the secrets of the Metropole and leaves him with a wonderful gift, and after a moment of despair launches on a whole new course. The count becomes head waiter at the Boyarsky, the hotel's fabled restaurant, forming a Triumvirate with Chef Emile and maître d' Andrey as he purveys taste, discretion, and culture in a bloodily upturned world. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union's many tragedies touch him (and readers) at a distance, communicating a sense of life ever haunted and ever resilient. VERDICT As urbane, cultured, and honey-smooth as the count himself, even as his situation inevitably creates suspense, this enthralling work is highly recommended even for those unfamiliar with Soviet history. [See Prepub Alert, 3/21/16.]—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal.  [Page 89]. (c) Copyright 2016 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews

Sentenced to house arrest in Moscow's Metropol Hotel by a Bolshevik tribunal for writing a poem deemed to encourage revolt, Count Alexander Rostov nonetheless lives the fullest of lives, discovering the depths of his humanity.Inside the elegant Metropol, located near the Kremlin and the Bolshoi, the Count slowly adjusts to circumstances as a "Former Person." He makes do with the attic room, to which he is banished after residing for years in a posh third-floor suite. A man of refined taste in wine, food, and literature, he strives to maintain a daily routine, exploring the nooks and crannies of the hotel, bonding with staff, accepting the advances of attractive women, and forming what proves to be a deeply meaningful relationship with a spirited young girl, Nina. "We are bound to find comfort from the notion that it takes generations for a way of life to fade," says the companionable narrator. For the Count, that way of life ultimately becomes less about aristocratic airs and privilege than generosity and devotion. Spread across four decades, this is in all ways a great novel, a nonstop pleasure brimming with charm, personal wisdom, and philosophic insight. Though Stalin and Khrushchev make their presences felt, Towles largely treats politics as a dark, distant shadow. The chill of the political events occurring outside the Metropol is certainly felt, but for the Count and his friends, the passage of time is "like the turn of a kaleidoscope." Not for nothing is Casablanca his favorite film. This is a book in which the cruelties of the age can't begin to erase the glories of real human connection and the memories it leaves behind. A masterly encapsulation of modern Russian history, this book more than fulfills the promise of Towles' stylish debut, Rules of Civility (2011). Copyright Kirkus 2016 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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A tale of spycraft, love and sacrifice inspired by the true story of Doctor Zhivago follows the efforts of two CIA agents to help publish Boris Pasternak's censored masterpiece against a backdrop of Cold War politics in Moscow.

Other Materials

To left: Map of Moscow 1922 from the book. Reproduced with kind permission from Alex Coulter.

To left: The Metropol Hotel, circa 1910