Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Gentleman in Moscow (audiobook-on-cd) by Amor Towles

A Gentleman in Moscow
by Amor Towles [Compact Disc Towles] 

I managed to get my hands on audiobook (Book-on-CD) copies of all three of this year’s One Book – One Lincoln finalists, and A Gentleman in Moscow is the first one I decided to tackle, as it was the longest of three, at 14 discs. I’m quite pleased to have started with this one, as it was an absolutely charming book to listen to. The narrator, Nicholas Guy Smith, embues author Amor Towles’ novel with humor, pathos and a sense of great scope.

A Gentleman in Moscow tells part of the life story of Russian Count Alexander Rostov, from the moment during the Russian Revolution when he is sentenced to spend the rest of his life under “house arrest” in the grand Metropol Hotel in Moscow, across the street from the Kremlin. The novel covers the next 40 to 50 years, through the 1950s, as the aristocratic Count recalls his daily routines and the hotels employees and guests who become integral parts of his life. Of greatest importance is a serious young girl named Nina, who befriends the Count as a small child, and several years later returns to beg the Count to look after her own little girl, while she follows her husband into politically-charged exile. Initially merely a caretaker, the Count eventually becomes a second father to young Sofia, and also settles into a job as the head waiter in The Metropol’s grandest restaurant.

This novel is a celebration of Russian (and world) history, as Count Rostov is an observer of the forces changing Russia into a world power. But it is also an intimate story about family, friends and personal integrity. Towles is a master of leaving tiny little clues and off-hand references early in the novel, which turn out, by the end of the book, to have been extremely important. The only drawback I found in listening to the audiobook version is that there are so many complex Russian names that it would have been helpful to have “seen” them on a printed page to more clearly remember them all. Otherwise, I highly recommend the audiobook version of this marvelous novel.

[ official A Gentleman in Moscow page on the official Amor Towles web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read or listened to this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

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