Novel comments--A Gentleman in Moscow

I was once told, "A place is what you make of it." This point was beautifully illustrated in the 2016 novel A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.  The novel tells of the fate of the Russian Count Alexander Rostow, age 33,  who was confined to house arrest in the illustrious hotel Metropol after he had been found guilty of being an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal. He was made to move from his elegant rooms in the hotel to small, cramped quarters in the attic. Rostov was ordered not to leave the Metropol on pain of death.

During his decades there, he watched and learned about the world outside from the interior of the Metropol. Many people from the outside came to the hotel to dine and drink in its fine restaurants and bars. Some would have rooms there for long or short-term stays. There were politicians from the Kremlin across the street, foreigners from all sots of countries, and artists from the nearby theater district.

Yet the most important people were from inside. He had daily contacts with those who worked there and who kept the hotel running smoothly through thick and thin. There were chefs, bartenders, doormen, seamstresses, waiters, etc.  Over time these people became the dear friends of this once rather effete young man. Rostov himself became a waiter, part of the proletariat. Using his prior aristocratic familiarity with the finer things, such as excellent food, wine, and manners, he  became a waiter who was much in demand. His emotional life further expanded when he became the guardian of a tiny girl child as she grew up and became an accomplished pianist.

Through his three decades in the Metropol, Rostov lived a full and rewarding life until the needs of the now young woman necessitated his designing their cleverly executed exit.


Towles, A. (2016). A Gentleman in Moscow. Viking

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