Book Review: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

AGentlemanInMoscowCoverOfficial Synopsis from Goodreads: He can’t leave his hotel. You won’t want to.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Civility—a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel.

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: Hotel Metropol, Moscow 1922-1954
My Copy Came From: I purchased the hardback from my local bookstore, Copperfield’s.

*** this post contains affiliate links ***

Review: A slow going but excellent read!

My review for A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles has a slightly different format than my usual reviews. I’m going through somewhat of a blogging slump lately, no particular reason why, I just have been busy, and so therefore you’re getting some brief thoughts in bullet-format because I’m lazy. Plus this was a book club read for me last month, and I didn’t get my review written before my book club meeting.

So, here are the notes I wrote down while I was reading the book, and while my notes are minimal, I did enjoy this read and think that it is a good book club selection for those who enjoy historical fiction and don’t mind slower reads.

“It is the business of the times to change, Mr. Halecki. And it is the business of gentlemen to change with them.”

 My Thoughts:

  • What it means to be a gentleman
  • What exactly is this book about? Pg 73 and I still don’t know
  • Humorous
  • The scene with the wine bottles !!!
  • Passage of time
  • Skips big sections of time / time jumps are working here / it does skip over WW2 and while I wish I could’ve gotten a bit more about that from the Count’s perspective, I realize that may have made the book too long as plot wise it probably didn’t have anything to do with the characters we were following in the story – possibly could’ve turned this into a WW2 book
  • I liked it, but sometimes grew annoyed with the Count’s witticisms and advice – he can come across as pompous and snobbish, but also as someone with great loyalty and caring.
  • Looking forward to the movie! But Kenneth Branagh ?? Hmm
  • It’s a slow read, but enjoyable. I kept plugging away at it and I’m glad I read it.


Since the beginning of storytelling, he explained, Death has called on the unwitting. In one tale or another, it arrives quietly in town and takes a room at an inn, or lurks in an alleyway, or lingers in the marketplace, surreptitiously. Then just when the hero has a moment of respite from his daily affairs, Death pays him a visit.

This is all well and good, allowed the Count. But what is rarely related is the fact that Life is every bit as devious as Death. It too can wear a hooded coat. It too can slip into town, lurk in an alley, or wait in the back of a tavern.

So there are the thoughts I wrote down while I was reading the book (a side effect of being a book blogger – I take notes while I read). While I wished this title had a bit more background information about Russia and it wasn’t quite as focused on the history as I anticipated going in, I did enjoy this read and thought the characters were very memorable. I think this will be a title I revisit sometime in the future, and the movie is sure to be a beautiful film, although I’m not sure Kenneth Branagh is the right choice to play the Count.

Bottom Line: Slow but enjoyable!

 LINKS ***the Amazon link is an affiliate link which means I receive a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase***

Amazon     |     Goodreads     |     Author Website

Here are some other titles that are either set in or about Russia that you may like:

Have you read A Gentleman in Moscow? Did you enjoy it? Do you ever go through reading and/or blogging slumps? Do you take notes while you read?


9 thoughts on “Book Review: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

        1. As I was driving to work this morning I remembered that Mikhail Baryshnikov acted in several episodes of Sex and the City. So maybe he could have a role in this movie! Perhaps not the Count, as the Count is fairly young (in his 20s) when he’s first placed under arrest and ages throughout the course of the book. I think something like this would be great for an unknown actor to star in, but Hollywood is unlikely to cast an unknown in a role like this.


  1. I loved this book so much. I don’t think I can put the ‘why’ into words, but I did love it. I do make note of something from a book, usually a quote, on occasion, but I do this so haphazardly that I am usually making the note on a scrap of paper found next to me while reading … and never see it again. Guess I need a system. And I do go through reading ‘slumps’. This seems to end well as it encourages me to choose something very different to read (sometimes good, sometimes not so much …).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha ha – with the quotes I like I write down the page number, but then rarely ever go back and re-read the quotes I like – and this doesn’t help with a library book or one that I borrowed. When (if) I read the book again, no doubt the page numbers will be different for which quote I liked!
      I think I was surprised that this book was so focused on human nature in general rather than being so specific to Russian history. I was expecting there to be more history here than there was. A movie will be interesting – will they focus on the humor in the book? Or have it be more serious in tone and lose all the humor entirely? It will be interesting!


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