Three days since I finished this excellent book, it’s still stuck in my head. You can read a more complete description at Amazon. Here’s mine:
Count Alexander Rostov is placed under house arrest in the Metropol Hotel in Moscow in 1922. For life. Because art loves constraints, telling a story within the confines of a single building helps make this both deep and broad. There’s an understanding of Soviet thinking I’ve rarely seen. In the sweep of more than three decades, the joys and pains of life take on a stoic Russian feel, especially in the author’s footnotes which tell us “don’t pay attention to this character, he’s not as important as the scene might suggest” or “sadly, this character, much as we’d love to see them again, leaves our story here and never returns.”
There is humor, the kind I had to pause to share with Best Beloved. Pain. The pains of every kind of loss. Food. What’s a novel without food? Love. Romantic love, yes, but the two deepest and most important relationships in the book are between two men whose friendship I envy and between a man and his not-really-adopted daughter.
And the ending.
I won’t spoil the ending for you, but it is the kind of deeply satisfying perfectly appropriate inevitable yet surprising ending that had me in tears yesterday morning as I tried to describe it to Best Beloved.
Amor Towles’ A Gentleman in Moscow is on the very short list of best books I’ve ever read.