Saturday, August 29, 2015

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles~★★★★★

Author: Amor Towles
Title: Rules of Civility
Release Date: July 26, 2011, read by Rebecca Lowman
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Genre: Fiction

Audio Book Cover: "On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar with her boardinghouse roommate stretching three dollars as far as it will go when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker with royal blue eyes and a tempered smile, happens to sit at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its starting consequences propel Katey on a yearlong journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool toward the upper echelons of New York society and the executive suites of Condé Nast -- rarefied environs where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve. 
Wooed in turn by a shy, principled multimillionaire and an irrepressible Upper East Side ne'er-do-well, befriended by a single-minded widow who is ahead of her time, and challenged by an imperious mentor, Katey experiences firsthand the poise secured by wealth and station and the failed aspirations that reside just below the surface. Even as she waits for circumstances to bring Tinker back into her life, she begins to realize how our most promising choices inevitably lay the groundwork for our regrets. 
Listeners will quickly fall under the spell of this sophisticated and entertaining novel with its sparkling depiction of New York's social strata, its intricate imagery and themes, its finely crafted unfolding of the unforeseen, and its immensely appealing heroine---a character you will not soon forget." 

Taryn's Review: Let me begin by saying I was completely swept off my feet by this book. It completely engrossed me due to its gorgeous and perfect vocabulary, captivating characters, and great story line. That said, this book will not be for all readers. The story was built up slowly and that alone will be unappealing to some readers. This isn't a story with a grand "AHA!" moment, but it's beautifully reflective about how odd and mystifying life can be and how certain interactions shape the rest of our lives. It is a very wordy novel versus having lots of actions, so that will also be a deterrent for some readers.

Katey Kontent was the main character of this book, and she is now one of my favorite literary characters. The book was centered on Katey recalling the year 1938 after seeing a photograph of an old friend in a photo gallery in the 1960s. As Katey reflected on that fateful year, author Amor Towles shared with the readers that Katey was intellectual, independent, and bold. Katey was witty with a dry sense of humor and she had a sharp tongue that could leave cuts on its recipient. Katey lived life and took risks, even when they hurt her. Amor Towles is so very talented, and I was blown away by how in love I was with his dialogue for his characters and his immaculate setting descriptions. Each character felt so real thanks to Towles and their interactions were some of my favorite parts of the book, especially between Katey and her friend Eve (Evelyn) Ross. Towles also worked in phrases and word choices that would have been popular in the late 1930s, again giving the a book livelihood that so many stories lack.

I listened to this book during my commute to and from work and I cannot sing enough praises of Rebecca Lowman and her amazing narration skills. She was the perfect Katey Kontent, and she was just as wonderful when it came to voicing the other characters in the story. Listening to Lowman narrate was absolutely my pleasure.

This book easily could have veered off, crashed, and burned at any point, but under the skillful hand of Towles, it never felt unbelievable or questionable. I am so excited to say that this book is one of my favorite reads to date. Again, I know this book won't be for everyone with its love-it-or-hate-it quality, but I am firmly in the love-it camp and I cannot wait for Towles's next novel to be published. I highly suggest listening to this story as well. There were many nights I sat in my car in my home's parking lot because I couldn't bear the thought of having to wait until the next day to know how the chapter ended!

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