Note: I’m not a book reviewer and I’m not an English professor! 🙂 Three years ago I made a new year’s resolution to read a book a week and I’ve stayed pretty much on track. But, sometimes I fly through books without thinking much about them – which seems such an awful missed opportunity! So, I’m typing up my quick thoughts after finishing. Might contain spoilers, mistakes and gross misinterpretations! Read on at your own peril!

Loved this book by Amor Towles. I brought it with on a trip to Chelan as a “back-up book” and just couldn’t put it down. I accidentally purchased the large-font version on Amazon, so the volume felt substantial, but the pages sadly went by twice as quick.

The first chapter places the Count under house-arrest at the Hotel Metropol for the remainder of his life. We later have a flashback to his grandmother’s admonition, which explains his resolute happiness; “there is nothing pleasant to be said about losing. But, Sasha, my dear, why on earth would you give [them] the satisfaction [of your misery].” What great advice for fictional-grandchildren and readers alike.

Amor picked an interesting structure where the time elapsed between chapters doubles until halfway through the book, where it reverses and cuts in half each time. So the beginning and end of the book both take place over a few days and weeks, where the middle of the book jumps over 16 years at once. I’m embarrassed I didn’t catch on to this until reading a Q&A by the author.

The Metropol Hotel.

A couple things stuck with me through this book.

  • Loved the tradition of toasting on the tenth anniversary of the death of a family member. On that note, what a great friend Mishka was.
  • Montaigne’s Essays we’re described so romantically and roasted so barbarously, that when I spotted a selected version in a used book store in Alaska, I had to pick it up and I’m about halfway through. It’s eminently relatable for being nearly 500 years old, but works as advertised for curing insomnia.
  • Would love to visit the Metropol if I’m ever in Moscow. I wonder how their occupancy rates and prices have been affected by this fairly popular book.

I’d recommend this book to most readers. Not sure about the “re-readability” of it, but it’s a favorite of the year so far.

-DKT