Rules of Civility

Monday, May 28, 2012

Rules of Civility
by Amor Towles

Sometimes a book can convey the atmosphere of a time and place so vividly that you’re willing to forgive it for a few weaker spots. This is one of those books and I found myself looking forward to listening to it on my commute every single day. 

Set in New York City in 1938, the book has a bit of a Thoroughly Modern Millie feel to it. Our heroine is a young woman, Katey Kontent, who lives with her charismatic friend Eve. Katey has worked hard to move up in the world, whereas Eve was born wealthy. Katey is easy to like; she works hard, she loves books and she’s a loyal friend. On New Year's Eve in 1937, she and Eve meet the charming Tinker Grey and the three quickly become inseparable.
The rest of the novel introduces us to a parade of elegant, but troubled characters; Wallace Wolcott, Ann Grandin, Dicky Vanderwhile, all of whom are fascinating. I found Tinker’s brother a particularly illusive character, and was left wanting to know more about him.

The plot lost some of its momentum towards the end. Characters wandered in and out of the story and it was impossible to maintain the same level of energy from the beginning. That being said, I really enjoyed this book. It reminded me, in a lot of ways, of a Fitzgerald novel. It has that same theme of doomed relationships and frivolous parties. It’s not a new all-time favorite, but I had so much fun visiting New York City in the 1930s for a little bit. 

“Which is just to say, be careful when choosing what you’re proud of because the world has every intention of using it against you.”

“It is a lovely oddity of human nature that a person is more inclined to interrupt two people in conversation, than one person alone with a book.”

“But I’ve come to realize that however blue my circumstances, if after finishing a chapter of a Dickens novel I feel a miss-my-stop-on-the-train sort of compulsion to read on, then everything is probably going to be just fine”

Check out Let’s Eat Grandpa’s thoughts here.

Image from here.


Peppermint Ph.D. said...

I've got this one on my WishList...early NY is one of my favorite settings! :)

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I really like the sound of this one. Glad you enjoyed it.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Peppermint Ph.D. - I loved the setting and time period. That was my favorite part of the book!

Diane - It's a fun one for summer.

Cori @ Let's Eat Grandpa said...

Great review! I loved the atmosphere of this one.