Alicia Duggan of The Bookshop reviews “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles
Russia 1922. Count Alexander Rostov stands before a Bolshevik tribunal in Moscow charged with being an unrepentant aristocrat.
Avoiding the firing squad, however, he is instead declared a “Former Person” and sentenced to a life of house arrest at his current abode, The Metropol, a grand hotel opposite the Kremlin in Moscow.
Upon his return to the hotel he is unceremoniously removed from his grand suite and his life as one of the hotels most prestigious guests and is sent to live a small room in the attic with whatever possessions he can fit.
Despite his change in fortune Count Rostov remains a true gentleman and adapts to his new life with poise and dignity drawing on two pieces of advice from his late father, “The first was that if one did not master one’s circumstances, one was bound to be mastered by them; and the second was Montaigne’s maxim that the surest sign of wisdom is constant cheerfulness”.
Taking us from his incarceration in 1922 and following his life in the hotel through to 1956 the characters we meet as Rostov fashions a new life for himself are delightful and the story is charming and heart-warming.
Factually (mostly) accurate and fictionally beautiful, A gentleman in Russia is an exquisitely well written novel and is set to become a modern classic.