Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

There are two images that come to mind when i think of this book. Diamonds and champagne. Like diamonds this book shines – nearly flawless, hard and sparkly. And like good champagne the book effervesces – bubbly and sweet with an edge. To me it felt like a version of The Great Gatsby that wasn’t completely academic and off-putting.
It’s the last day of 1937. Katey, who grew up in the less-affluent part of New York, goes out for a drink with her friend Eve. A chance meeting that night changes Katey’s life. We spend 1938 with her watching those changes unfold.
It’s drinking and smoking – carousing 1930s style. A book with constant action. It’s an author who trusts his reader enough to write characters with enormous depth and leaves the reader to discover the depths slowly. Deliciously.
There were a few surprises in the last third of the book. Things i hadn’t seen coming that made me sit up, and refit the puzzle together in my head with this new information. Twice i bolted up with an “OH!” And twice i cried – not sobs – just a little overflow of emotion.
While i wouldn’t characterize the book as a romance i did fall madly in love with one of the characters. And when i reread it it will be with an eye towards him – this time with the foresight to savor him and what he brought to the book.
And i think that last sentence says it all – “when i reread.” i’m not one to read a book twice – i get bored and resentful when i know what’s coming. But i have no doubt i’ll reread Rules. It’s too beautiful. Too easy. And way too much fun for me to place it in the Read pile and leave it there for good.

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