Review: Rules of Civility, Amor Towles

Rules of Civility, Amor Towles
On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar with her boardinghouse room mate 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 startling 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 multi-millionaire and an irrepressible Upper East Side ne'er-do-well, befriended by a single-minded widow who is a 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.

Amor Towles was born and raised just outside Boston, Massachusetts. He graduated from Yale University and received an MA in English from Stanford University, where he was a Scowcroft Fellow. He is a Principal at an investment firm in Manhattan, where he lives with his wife and two children.

Rules of Civility seduced me with its pretty cover combined with a very tempting synopsis. As you have noticed I am a total fool when it comes to jazz and I guess I stopped reading after "in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar" and just bought the book. After it has been on my shelves for ages but drifted to the top when Leah announced Jazz Age January. Only one problem...the story is set in 1937 which is pretty much after the Jazz Age. Still I decided to put it on top of the pile and after reading a raving review over at Allison's Book Wheel on 'Eve in Hollywood' I picked it up right away.
The first fifty pages were a bit of a struggle though. I had a hard time to connect with Katey. The way she was thinking about her life and her surroundings made me nervous, it gave me the feeling she was lost and not sure about things herself. On the other side she gave me the feeling she was a big girl and knew how to handle herself and what she wanted and for me both these emotions made that I was not sure about her.
I did get in the story eventually though me and Katey will probably never be friends. The whole story tells about one year of her life and we lived 40 in my imagination. It did make me feel sorry for her every time I realized this. Imagine having such a busy life with so many changes.
There are a lot of topics coming up about behavior, social skills, work, harassment, abuse, money. It would be an interesting pick up for a book club, there is a lot of discussion possible with this story. Plus the writing style is very pleasant.

Rules of Civility
Author: Amor Towles
Publisher: Viking Adult
ISBN-10: 067002269
ISBN-13: 9780670022694
Viking Adult: eBook | Hardcover | Paperback
Rules of Civility
4 stars

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25 February, 2014 delete

I'll put it on my list to read. I have heard about this book many time (even had it recommended to me) so I'm glad you gave it 4 stars. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

26 February, 2014 delete

I've heard a lot of good things about this book, and I really enjoy historical fiction. Onto the endless TBR pile, with you!

Jennine G.
27 February, 2014 delete

I first heard raving reviews of this book from the writing blogs I followed when I first started blogging. I always have my eye on it, but just haven't pushed myself to pick it up yet. Four stars is good though...hmmm...