Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
Is this not the most beautiful book cover you’ve ever seen?! Maybe it was the main reason why I bought it – but in fairness, it was a total bargain at £1.99 in Oxfam. I went into this book with no idea of the plot, and came out pleasantly surprised. This review is spoiler free (yay!).
It’s 1937, and Katey Kontent is living with her friend Eve in a New York boardinghouse. They are quickly running out of money while celebrating New Year’s Eve, until they bump into the generous Tinker Grey, a wealthy and handsome banker. The story follows the developing relationship between the trio, including the happiness and tragedy that follows…
What I Loved:
I’ve already said it, but I really love the cover. The design is so delicate and sophisticated, and the gold, white, and navy work so well together *insert heart eyes emoji*.
Throughout the book there are photos, which are explained at the start to be portraits taken secretly on the New York subway by Walker Evans (who is a real person). I found it so interesting to see what people looked like in the 30s/40s, especially when caught unaware.
When I first saw this book I was reminded of The Great Gatsby, which is a favourite of mine. Even though Rules of Civility is set over ten years later, it still has that same vibe of glamour and mischief among the rich, which I really enjoyed.
The writing by Amor Towles is beautiful, and again it reminded me of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s style. However, I found Towles’ writing a lot easier to understand, which was a bonus.
Rules of Civility was full of interesting and colourful characters, and even those not part of the main trio had backstories and personalities rich in detail, which I always appreciate in a book.
What I Didn’t Love:
With a cover as beautiful as this, you would imagine the back would follow suit. But no, instead of a blurb, we were given reviews from various newspapers and magazines. I don’t care if The Observer found it ‘Fabulous’, I just want to know what it’s about!
One thing in this book that I had never seen before was the use of hyphens instead of speech marks (see below). Although it’s not a massive thing, I sometimes forgot I was reading speech because of the lack of punctuation.
Sometimes I felt the story got a bit lost in the effort of the writer to have meaningful and beautiful writing, which was a shame.
Overall I enjoyed Rules of Civility, and it was fun, quick read. I liked the characters and the storyline, but I will say that I felt it was lacking something in places (I’m still not sure what).
Rating: 4* /5
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