Friday, July 20, 2012

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar with her boardinghouse roommate stretching three dollars as far as it will go when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker with royal blue eyes and a tempered smile, happens to sit at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a yearlong journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool toward the upper echelons of New York society and the executive suites of Condé Nast--rarefied environs where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve. Wooed in turn by a shy, principled multi-millionaire and an irrepressible Upper East Side ne'er-do-well, befriended by a single-minded widow who is a ahead of her time,and challenged by an imperious mentor, Katey experiences firsthand the poise secured by wealth and station and the failed aspirations that reside just below the surface. Even as she waits for circumstances to bring Tinker back into her life, she begins to realize how our most promising choices inevitably lay the groundwork for our regrets.
Initial Thoughts: 
This book was all over the place in book clubs and on different blogs I was reading. It came highly recommended by a friend as well. I also love historical fiction so I decided to read it.

The Pros:
I almost felt like I was in the 1930's with Katey and Eve. The author really puts you in the setting with detailed descriptions of the time and place. You really get what it was like to be a working girl in those times and the limited job opportunities that were available to women at that time. 

I loved how the beginning of the book shows the two pictures of Tinker. It shows how much change the characters undergo throughout the book. The book starts with Tinker at the top and Katey at the bottom and by the end, their roles have very much reversed.

It was very Great Gatsby-esque, and as that is one of my most favorite books.

Eve reminded me of a movie star in that age. Beautiful and confident, she had every man under finger. Until the accident changes everything. 

The author chose the name of the book from a title by a young George Washington, The Rules of Civility, which documented proper behavior.

The Cons:
At some points in the book, the description of the world in which they lived overshadowed the actual characters.

When Katey visits Tinker at his vacation home, things got a bit awkward for me.

I'm at war with myself over the Epilogue. I can't decide if that's how I would have liked it to end.

The Wrap Up: 4/5
This was a great historical fiction novel painted in the tones of the 1930's. It shows us how every interaction we make can make a difference. How every action has an equal reaction. If you like historical fiction with a dash of romance, this is the story for you.

Favorite Quote:
"Old times, as my father used to say: If you're not careful, they'll gut you like a fish."

Do you want to learn the Rules of Civility? Click here.

1 comment:

  1. Two of my very best friends (one is an English teacher and one a professor in Ireland) mentioned this book lately and I have the sample on my Kindle now. I'm glad to see one more good review. :)