I ordered this novel because it was highly recommended on various reading groups. Moreover, I had not read anything on the Russian way of living.
When I took off, the pace was slow, the book was fat, the font too small and I was short of time. I detested my purchase but there was something about the novel which did not let me part with it. And I am glad that I stuck to it for nearly 2 months else I would have missed a beautiful piece of writing.
I stuck to it because the novel had a charm to it. Even though I had never read anything on Russian history or their lifestyle, this novel never made me feel like a bystander. I was involved with the lives of the characters from the word ‘go’.
The heart warming subtle satire interspersed in the text was another reason why I clung onto it. Also, the characters in the novel became closer to my heart with each page, especially Count Alexander Rostov, recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew – member of the Jockey Club, Master of the Hunt. He is ‘the Gentleman in Moscow’ – the central character of the novel.
He is the most endearing character who doesn’t loose his wit, charm and poise in the face of adversity. While Russia goes through tumultous upheaval, the Count is confined (sentenced) to life in the Hotel Metropol. He is uprooted from his soil and forced to live in an attic room of the most luxurious hotels where he had earlier resided in the most exquisitely decorated room – Suite 317.
Without getting into the nitty-gritties of the life of the Count, I would like to mention about the writing style of the author. Amor Towles not only has eye for detail but also has the perfect words to describe things, situations or characters. I must admire his knowledge about wines, lifestyles, attires, orchestras, architectural styles, the decor of room, the seasons, the crops, literature, arts, and just about everything! He describes them them with passion and at leisure. I noticed an entirely different perspective about everything through his eyes.
His rich philosophical views about life have been well embeded in the narration. The reader gets to introspect every once in a while moving through the labyrinth of life with the characters. The reader is kept engrossed with the turn of events and the people who stay in the Metropol. A few return after regular intervals but the others pay a visit to give a twist to the story. Though the enchanting tale is narrated at slow pace, there is never a dull moment.
Whatever I might write in praise of the novel but I will not be able to do justice to it. It has left a wonderful-everlasting impression on me.
A superb read!!