- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 17 hours and 52 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Penguin Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: September 6, 2016
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01E0CCSXA
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel Audiobook – Unabridged
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Secondly, the story simply could not have happened. The Imperial Russian elite were hunted down and executed or fled the country in the late teens and early 20's. The Bolsheviks spared no one, let alone a aristocratic poet. They even slaughtered or drove to madness many of the poets and artists that supported the early regime. The Red Terror of the 20's and then the Great Purges in the 30's would not have spared anyone.
Third, the relationship he had with Nina was impossible. Her association with one of the "Former People" would have resulted in catastrophe for her and her entire family early in the red Terror. She and her family would not have survived her association with him let alone allowing for any on-going relationship. She would never have lived to be old enough to have a child because of her association with the Count.. Even if I could buy into it, the relationship could have been a much greater vehicle for illustrating and allowing the reader to experience the dark brutal realities of life in early Soviet Union, the reprogramming of youth and the obsessive, no-cost-is-too-great attempt to build Communism. Association with the Count would have also been a death sentence for anyone else in the hotel, including the staff.
Likewise the relationship and "English lessons" he had with the Bolshevik leader could not have happened. The General would have been purged and shot for simply associating with the Count. In a hotel like the Metropole nothing was secret and every secret was told to the regime. Nearly every employee was an informer just to survive. Someone would have noticed and informed on the Red General. And a Red General would never have placed himself in such a dangerous position by seeking out the Count.
Fourth, the experience of WWII, The Great Patriotic War, is virtually ignored. The Battle of Moscow and the utter destruction of most of the city and the trauma to every Russian family is completely neglected. The experience of the War is key to the country and culture that emerged afterwards and is perhaps Russia's defining moment for generations to come.
Finally, and very troublesome to me, is why did he wait 30 years to attempt an escape. Why is there no mention of any thoughts, attempts to escape or appeal his "house arrest?" Not once.
The story of Russia in the 20th Century is a story of human tragedy and at the same time a story of human beauty, survival and endurance. It is one of the most tragic 100 years in the history of any nation or people on earth. In this book, revolutions, famines, terror, two world wars, utter destruction and the start of the Cold War are glossed over while the author spends endless pages on descriptions of dinners, meals and wine selections.
The writing is amazing. The images that flow are lyrical and gorgeous. But this is a missed opportunity to be a truly great book. Frankly, Russia, in all its beauty and brutal history, deserves a better treatment. Readers deserve to know and experience the real journey of Russia in the first half of the 20th century.
REVIEW: Book hangover. Book hangover for days. I had such an emotionally fulfilled feeling at the end of this novel that when I finished the last page, I closed the book, sat back, sighed deeply, and thought, "well, what now? where do I go from here? how do I move on?"...book hangover.
It seems convoluted to start a review with the ending of a book, but this novel is actually a rather long tale, spanning 30+ years, so before I get into the journey, allow me this one break with decorum. The ending. Oh, this ending. Whenever anyone asks me which book ending I love the most, I will usually answer Water for Elephants, because it has one of the most satisfying endings I have ever read. And until now no other novel has come close to changing my answer. But A Gentleman in Moscow, if not completely upsetting Sara Gruen's work, at least pulls level with it, because it is such a satisfying end to this novel, and I'll say no more than that for fear of ruining the experience for anyone else.
Who hasn't had the thought, at some point, that it would be nice to live in a hotel? Perhaps we don't imagine that it will be under house arrest and 1922 in Moscow, but it's a luxurious idea to entertain. It feels like such a universal fantasy that, despite the fact that we are not (probably) an aristocrat, a connoisseur of multiple tastes, exceedingly cultured, and currently exiled within our own country, we somehow connect with Count Rostov immediately. Here is a man from a by-gone era and yet he wins us over completely with his wit and charm from the very first page.
This is all due completely to the beautiful writing of the author, of course. Amor Towles caught my attention with his first book Rules of Civility (which I also highly recommend), a book that is completely opposite to this one in nearly every way, except the writing. Towles writes with such sophistication and beauty in every carefully chosen word that it manages to feel effortless. It's captivating.
A Gentleman in Moscow is rich with detail. The first half of the book creates a thorough and gorgeous visual of the hotel and it's occupants. While it may seem a bit exhaustive, it's entirely necessary. The reader is being immersed so fully into this setting that we feel just as the Count feels in his many years in the Metropol. And nothing is without purpose. Each moment and person is leading somewhere and the second half of the book is a revelation of a life well lived.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the humor and philosophical wisdom running throughout this novel. At times it's witty and funny in that perfectly refined way, and in the next moment it's incredibly astute and insightful. I could quote this book for days. As I was reading I would reach for my phone to snap a picture of passage that I didn't want to forget. This happened often. As intelligent as it is entertaining, this book has it all.
I could ramble on about the the delightful and stunning setting of this book as well as the cast of characters that weave in and out and in again, but it might actually be overkill. By this point I'm sure you know that I recommend this book for multiple reasons. So it seems only right that you should discover the hotel and the people in it for yourself without me spoiling a thing.
A Gentleman in Moscow is wonderful from beginning to end. It's the type of book that I know I will reread because I'm not ready to let it go. I don't want to say goodbye to the world and people that Towles has created, so I won't. I'll revisit often and always with a perfectly paired glass of wine in my hand, as Count Rostov would approve.