It’s rare that I feel pure jealousy of an author, but Mr. Towles manages to write exactly the books I wish I could. As a reasonably witty, well-educated Russian scholar with an overactive imagination, you might think I’d be capable of writing something as charming and transporting as A Gentleman in Moscow, but… alas. I can only read this book along with everyone else and marvel at the sneaky and surprising ways that the human spirit reacts to pressures both overt and inane.
The plot is a bit improbable, but then, improbable things happened with surprising regularity in the early days of the Soviet Union. And the Hotel Metropol is just magical enough to make it happen. This would have made an excellent Wes Anderson movie.
Summary from the publisher:
On 21 June 1922, Count Alexander Rostov – recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew, member of the Jockey Club, Master of the Hunt – is escorted out of the Kremlin, across Red Square and through the elegant revolving doors of the Hotel Metropol. Deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the Count has been sentenced to house arrest indefinitely. But instead of his usual suite, he must now live in an attic room while Russia undergoes decades of tumultuous upheaval. Can a life without luxury be the richest of all?
Penguin, 2016. 456 pages.