New Years Eve 1937; Katey Kontent and her boardinghouse roommate Evie Ross are listening to a jazz quartet in New York when they meet the apparently wealthy Tinker Grey. This meeting of chance sets both of them on a path to the highest ranks of glamorous New York society during the inter-war period. A secretary and daughter of Russian immigrants, Katey's new connections soon lead to lots of opportunities for both her career and her personal life. But her close friendship with Evie is strained by circumstance and by the relationship both girls have with the charismatic Tinker, who isn't quite all he seems.
Rules of Civility is worth reading for the sense of time and place it evokes alone. Every time I picked it up, I was transported to swinging New York, with all it's flapper dresses, midnight parties and Gatsby-esque mansions. I just adored losing myself completely in the past and Towles effortlessly transports you back in time in a completely seamless way. The descriptions were so good that at times I felt as though I was watching a movie rather than reading a book (and a fabulous movie it would make too).
Another strength of the book was the main character, Katey. She's smart and sarcastic, but there is a touch of vulnerability about her too, that makes her easy to relate to. She has a lot of ups and downs throughout the course of the novel and I really found myself rooting for her as she came across as completely real. I liked that Katey was quite secretive as a narrator; Towles leaves it up to us to read between the lines in order to work out what she really thinks and feels.
Although the beginning and ending of Rules of Civility were completely engaging, I did find that the middle sections dragged a bit. There were a lot of secondary characters introduced, a lot of people that Katey met at parties, and it was hard to keep them straight at times. Evie and Tinker disappear off page for a large part of the middle of the book, and their absence makes the plot a bit duller. The middle was just missing the spark of the beginning and end.
Rules of Civility is a well written book, evocative of 1930s New York. You will like it if:
- You like F. Scott Fitzgerald (particularly The Great Gatsby).
- You enjoy well written historical fiction.
- You love the glamour and decadence of the inter-war period.
Source: Personal copy
First Published: 2011
My Edition: Sceptre, 2012
Score: 4 out of 5
Sounds good, but I'm not sure because of the middle section. I enjoyed The Great Gatsby and love the cover of this book and the premise of it. I'll think it over... ;)ReplyDelete
If you liked Gatsby, I think you would like this one for the atmosphere alone. I'm glad that I read it.Delete
I guess I'll have to read this then...I have a bit of a thing for the inter-war period and even more of a thing recently for Fitzgerald and Gatsby (I'm still not over how good the movie was). I find sometimes that middle sections never do live up to the beginning and ending, no idea why that is. I'm glad you enjoyed it and I will be adding it to my list :)ReplyDelete
You are most definitely the right reader for this book, Ellie!Delete
I liked this one too :)ReplyDelete
Things are looking different here, I dig the new look!
Indeed, it was time for a change :)Delete
This one one of my favorites last year. Although I missed Evie and Tinker in the middles section, too, the gorgeous writing and evocation of time/place was enough to keep me going.ReplyDelete
I think it will grow on me more with time too; the more I think back on it, the more I like it. Tinker was a fantastic character, I did not guess the big reveal about him!Delete
I've been ignoring this one largely because of the hype surrounding it. Looks like I need to get over myself and try it. I think I'd really like the setting and atmosphere.ReplyDelete
In this case, the hype is justified. It wasn't a perfect book, but it is most definitely worth trying.Delete
I love the glamour and decadence of the inter-war period. I think I will have to make a note of this one.ReplyDelete
I fell in love with this novel, found it almost impossible to put down. I can see this one going on the big screen.ReplyDelete
I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Rebecca Lowman, and it was just wonderful. I know I would have really liked the book anyway, but I thought the narrator was outstanding.ReplyDelete
I loved loved loved this one! I forsee reading it again in the near future. I agree that Katey's character really made it shine. Glad you enjoyed it!ReplyDelete
Yes, we totally loved this book! We're reading "Loving Frank" next, which we've heard is also pretty great. Looking forward to it!ReplyDelete
Marlene Detierro (Parts Hummer)
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
I loved this book because I like NYC and I found the 1930's era so interesting to read about. But to enjoy Rules of Civility you don't have to like those things too because it offers so much more. This book is a well-written, well-rounded great story from an author that I'll be putting on my must-read list for future books.ReplyDelete
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