Monday, January 29, 2018

A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow; by Amor Towles, © 2016, Viking

As most anyone knows, Russia has had a tough history. There have been wars, civic upheaval, glittering triumphs, and questionably dark events. This novel is set in the midst of some of them.

In 1922, Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is arrested by the Bolsheviks. His crime—being too Aristocratic. And it is true. Having lived a privileged life, Rostov moved in elite circles, rubbing elbows with the Upper Class of Russia and the world,  all while appreciating the finer things in life. But that all ended with a poem that sent him back to the Metropol Hotel under house arrest, never to leave again. Effectively, he became a non-person.

This is where this sweeping novel begins, and, despite never truly leaving the confines of the hotel, where we get to reflect on the events transpiring outside the Metropol's doors. As despite the fact that Rostov can never leave the hotel, the world still walks through its elegant lobby.

So while Rostov readjusts to life in a cramped attic room, a far cry from the generous suites he was previously used to, life still happens. And while the story is slow to unfold, one cannot help but be swept up in Rostov's reflections on it. There are touching scenes of love, friendship, fealty, honesty, and deviousness that are hard to resist. My favourite scene being when Rostov is led into the cellar to view the vast wine collection, only to find not a label in sight. I too was aghast at the travesty of it and couldn't put the book down from there.

While the book is a work of fiction, Towles adds plenty of historical events to set his stage. For fans of Russian literature, I'm not sure if this novel would hit the mark, but I found it worth the read and look forward to discussing it further with my book club when we meet. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


I scribe illusion
from the truths inside of me
who would believe them

* inspired from a prompt from Colleen's Weekly Tanka Tuesday
I used synonyms for #write and #myth


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