A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
Published by Windmill Books, 2nd November 2017
Genres: Historical fiction
On the 21st of June 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is escorted from the Kremlin at the heart of Moscow, to the Metropol Hotel. Although he usually occupies one of the most luxurious suites in the Hotel, the count has been assigned a new room, a very small one in the attic. In addition, he is only able to take a few possessions with him from his former residence. Why the sudden upheaval? Because the Count has been sentenced to house arrest by a Bolshevik tribunal. He will now be a permanent resident of the Metropol Hotel, indefinitely.
Over the years, in his much-diminished life, the Count must learn to re-focus himself and make the most of his fate. After all, although he is locked up, he is a prisoner in one of the most elegant hotels in Europe. He is also surrounded by an ensemble of interesting characters who will help shape his new existence.
What a charming and delightful book! It truly put a smile on my face and left me with a very warm feeling. I really didn’t want it to be over. The writing is so charming and intelligent and I really felt like I was inhabiting this unique corner of Moscow with the Count and his entourage.
The characters themselves were beautifully created and so well fleshed out. Each has their own particularities and style and individually brought so much to the story. The Count himself is such a larger-than-life personality and I found him utterly charming. There is also a wonderfully subtle sense of humour running throughout what could be seen as a serious story, given the political background.
Having been to Moscow myself in the past, I found that I was transported back to the city through the author’s evocative descriptions. When we follow Mishka through Red Square, into Theatre Square and to the Hotel, I could see everything in my mind’s eye. Although obviously centred on the Metropol Hotel, this book really brings Moscow to life.
I would really love to see this book adapted for the screen. I can already picture the elegant hotel with its eccentric cast of characters. There may already be a limited series in production, featuring Kenneth Branagh as the Count, which is very exciting. That is a great casting for the role and I hope it gets made!
My rating: 5/5