Rules of Civility – Amor Towles

Happy New Year!

I’m not sure where I first read about Rules of Civility but I know it was online rather than in a bookshop as I haven’t seen much about it yet here in the UK.

Thank you to the people who have read and written about it as I wouldn’t have discovered it otherwise and I can only describe it as fabulous – a fun book to read and a perfect book for New Year as it starts on New Years Eve in New York in 1937 and journeys with the characters through the following year. I have a bit of a crush on the 1920’s and 30’s at the moment so it was on the cards I would love this. I probably would have bought it anyway, on the strength of the cover alone.

Everything about the book is geared towards transporting its reader back to the New York of the late 1930’s where the land of opportunity and the American dream are still available – to anyone bold enough to reach for it and take it.

Two girls who are most definitely bold enough are the narrator Katey, the intellectual, gutsy one and her room mate Eve, the sensational, beautiful one. On the last day of the year in 1937, they are sitting in a jazz bar in Greenwich village, hoping their money will last the night, when they meet the wealthy and good looking banker Tinker Grey. Both girls want him – what happens on that night and for the year that follows makes up this story.

Descriptive and atmospheric, Amor Towles’ story whisks his characters through the highs and lows of New York society – transformations, glamorous parties on the arms of the elite, scandal and tragedy fill the pages. Beneath the sparkling surface fate can intervene and fortunes can change in a heartbeat.

If at times the musings and scene setting seem just a touch staged, and maybe one too many boxes ticked in creating the atmosphere, I didn’t mind. It’s not a subtle book, it’s bold and designed I’m sure to impress. This combined with the elegance and tenacity of the narrator Katey worked like a charm for me – I loved it.

2011, 352 pages

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11 responses to “Rules of Civility – Amor Towles

  1. I loved this book when I read it recently, the atmosphere is great. It was a good idea to read it at New Year.

  2. Joanne – wasn’t the atmosphere great! One of the highlights of the book I think. Glad you enjoyed it too.

  3. Yes, “Rules of Civility” is a wonder of a book. I listened to it on audio, and it was a lot of fun. It should have gotten a lot more play on Best of Year lists than it did.

  4. Anokatony – What a great choice of book to listen to on audio. I imagine that just added to the fabulousness of it all!

  5. I just finished this and will review it later this week. I think you are right it isn’t subtle but such a great read anyway. the atmosphetre, the characters. Like an excellent and entertaining movie. I started it on New Year’s Eve as well.

  6. Caroline – flawed and fabulous isn’t it? And I thought of a movie as well when I was reading it. I wonder if it will get made into one. Can’t wait to read your review and pleased you found it a great read too – perfect for New Years’s Eve.

  7. Pingback: Amor Towles: Rules of Civility (2011) « Beauty is a Sleeping Cat

  8. This one passed me by until I spotted it on the TV Book Club List last week. I’m sometimes a little dubious about books set in this period, as there are so many from the period, but I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt as the books I’ve read from the list I’ve liked

    I can live with a lack of subtlety if the narrator has charm!

  9. FleurFisher – I didn’t know it was on that book list, I guess it will be a lot more visible in the bookshops by now. I’m just starting to discover stories from this period and loving them so far – the narrator does have charm. I hope you enjoy it too – I’ll look out for your thoughts.

  10. Don’t you love the cover too! Not only is it a gorgeous picture, but the paper feels so luxurious!

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