Monday, April 1, 2013

Recommended Reading: Rules of Civility

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

In between The Great Gatsby and World War II lies the story of Katey Kontent, Tinker Grey, and their social circles. The year is 1938, the place is New York City, and the story is complex.

It is hard to believe this is Amor Towles's first novel. The characters are colorfully developed. As the narrator Katey is introduced to new people throughout the book, you will be surprised how well you feel you know and understand them.

The city, too, comes alive under Towles's pen. From the jazz bars to the elaborately decorated store windows of Bergdorf Goodman's department store, from the Plaza Hotel to the bullpen at Conde Nast's towering office, you will feel as though you too are living in New York. Each place is described in narrow detail that never borders tedium, but makes you feel as though you have walked the hallways of the characters' flats many times and nosed around picture frames and urns.

Anyone who is as enthralled by portraits of this era as I am will enjoy this book. The effervescence of the profuse parties at the Hollingsworth's mansion is reminiscent of the parties of Fitzgerald's novels, and the inscrutableness of Tinker Grey even recalls the mysterious Jay Gatsby.

This book deserves to be slipped into your bag for your next holiday, carried on the train, or reclining by the pool. You will want to read it at your leisure because it will be hard to put down.

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