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A Gentleman in Moscow

Surely among the best written books so far this century, A Gentleman in Moscow (2016) by Amor Towles is an upbeat and uplifting story centered on Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov. The Count has learned that "if a man does not master his circumstances then he is bound to be mastered by them," and so, unflappably, he takes in stride what life tosses at him, with a great deal of charm and integrity along the way.

In a nutshell, the Count is ordered by the Bolsheviks in 1917 to remain for the rest of his life in Moscow's Hotel Metropol. He is an aristocrat, after all, and so he's forced to take residence in a small room for servants on an upper floor. As the years pass, and his country transforms dramatically outside this at times microcosmic but far safer world in which he resides, the Count encounters and often befriends a number of intriguing and mostly buoyant characters. Good things happen, more good things happen but with the occasional pitfall, then more good things happen, and while terrible things may occur outside the hotel, the story for the most part takes place inside, where the Count is indeed a master of his circumstances.

Metropol Hotel, Moscow
Metropol Hotel, Moscow


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