… life is less like a journey than it is a game of honeymoon bridge. In our twenties, when there is still so much time ahead of us, time that seems ample for a hundred indecisions, for a hundred visions and revisions — we draw a card, and we must decide right then and there whether to keep that card and discard the next, or discard the first card and keep the second. And before we know it, the deck has been played out and the decisions we have just made will shape our lives for decades to come.
Maybe that sounds bleaker than I intended.
Hi all! I’m here with a new review. I adored this book and just couldn’t stop thinking about it. So I’m going to share my view with you in hopes you will all want to read it.
I will stress that this review was not commissioned or request by anyone and I’m not getting paid. All thoughts on this book are my own opinion.
Rules of Civility
Author: Amor Towles
Genre: Historical fiction
First published: 2011
Publisher: Sceptre (imprint of Hodder & Stoughton)
Page number: 324
On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar with her boardinghouse roommate stretching three dollars as far as it will go when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker with royal blue eyes and a tempered smile, happens to sit at the neighbouring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a yearlong journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool toward the upper echelons of New York society and the executive suites of Condé Nast–rarefied environs where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve.
Wooed in turn by a shy, principled multi-millionaire and an irrepressible Upper East Side ne’er-do-well, befriended by a single-minded widow who is a ahead of her time, and challenged by an imperious mentor, Katey experiences firsthand the poise secured by wealth and station and the failed aspirations that reside just below the surface. Even as she waits for circumstances to bring Tinker back into her life, she begins to realise how our most promising choices inevitably lay the groundwork for our regrets.
This was a book I picked up on a whim at during a secondhand book sale because it’s set in New York during the 1930s. So where do I start.
This is a beautifully written book. Towles proses are lyrical and he manages to capture the essence of the 30s perfectly. Everything from setting, character’s behavior, food, clothing, technology is so vivid that you feel like you are there.
Going into the novel, I was worried has there are no quotation marks. So dialogue is signaled with a dash (ie. — Maybe the moon, I conceded). But I never had a issue telling what was spoken and what wasn’t. This is mostly because Towles rarely includes dialogue attributions and if there is a group of people talking it’s written like script. For example:
If you could be anyone for a day, who would you be?
Me: Mata Hari
Tinker: Natty Bumppo.
Eve: Darryl Zanuck.
I adored the structure of this novel. It opens with Katey and her husband at an art show during the 60s. The exhibit they go to see is a photographer’s work from the 20s and 30s – he took photos of people on trains. During the show, Katey notices two photos of her old friend, Tinker Grey. This moment sparks Katey in remembering the year she met him, 1938. For here the book spans over a year and splits into seasons – Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall (or Autumn). Its amazing to see just how much a persons life can change over the course of a single year – from the friends you gain and lose, your career, appearance and the place you love to go.
This will come as no surprise, but I highly recommend that everyone read this book. I think it is beautiful is every way shape and form. If you are interested in this novel please, please read it.