Rules Of Civility-Amor Towles

I believe I heard of this book through a GoodReads recommendation. The cover captured my interest immediately. It seemed like my kind of book, New York in the 1930s, what's not to like?


Amor Towles writes from the perspective of Katie Kontent, a young secretary born and raised in Brooklyn.  I enjoyed the beginning as Katie has a fascination with books and plays bridge with three imaginary characters, each with a distinct personality. She makes me feel a little better about being an introvert.

Katie has a friend who lives in an all girls boarding house with her in the city. This friend's name is Eve and she is described as "one of those surprising beauties from the American Midwest. 
In New York it becomes so easy to assume that the city's most alluring women have flown in from Paris or Milan. But they're just a minority. A much larger covey hails from the stalwart states that begin with the letter I--like Iowa or Indiana or Illinois. Bred with just the right amount of fresh air, roughhousing, and ignorance, these primative blondes set out from the cornfields looking like starlight with limbs. Every morning in the spring one of them skips off her porch with a sandwich wrapped in cellophane ready to flag down the first Greyhound headed to Manhattan--this city where all things beautiful are welcomed and measured if, if not immediately adopted, then at least tried on for size. "

Katie and Eve are at a quite jazz bar on New Year's Eve when they meet a man named Tinker. Tinker lives an extremely luxurious lifestyle, taking residence in an apartment on Central Park West and carrying a gold inscribed lighter to make sure all his lady friends have a light for their cigarettes. The three become fast friends, the girls each hoping for more than friends. Eve ends up capturing Tinker for herself, after they get into a car wreck and he nurses her back to health.

The plot follow through a year and a half, though to me it felt much longer. Tinker and Eve come and go and Katie stays in Manhattan doing her best to improve her mundane life.

I think Towles has a great talent for writing. His work is pleasant to read and his sentences beautifully formed. He is described as similar to Fitzgerald in certain reviews and I can certainly see this in his grammar and diction. However, in the category of characters and plot I would not even give Towles the honor of comparing him with Fitzgerald. I found Katie Kontent to be a rather bland character. Maybe it was a man writing from a woman's perspective, but I was left wanting more from her. And after a few situations, if I were Katie, I would have ended my friendship with Eve. And there were several other circumstances that made this character unconvincing as a woman.

I kept reading, though slightly irked. The book did work to redeem itself, there were a few twists and turns and I was entertained through the end. I still wanted some more depth to Katie and Tinker. Overall I give this book three out of five stars. It was wonderfully written, but the characters weren't real enough to satisfy my taste.

Please let me know what you think of this review, especially if you have read the book!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please comment! Let me know what you think!! <3