Half way through reading it, I was already gearing up to write a book review on “Rules of Civility: A Novel”, an Amor Towles’ book.
I have only just discovered this author. I must have been living under a rock judging from the thousands of superlative Amazon reviews of this book and others written by him.
“Rules of Civility: A Novel” is a beautifully written book – it makes you want to keep turning the pages just to keep reading Amor Towles’ vivid descriptions of his characters, that point in time in history and the always fascinating location.The author places his characters, Eve, Tinker and Katey in the 1930s in post-Depression Manhattan.
Eve and Katey are two young women who are struggling to make their dreams come to fruition in New York City and Tinker, who we perceive to be perfect initially, is a young, handsome city banker. Both Eve and Katey end up liking Tinker and without giving away too much, they all have flawed and very human interactions with each other over time. As they traverse time and their lives, challenging life situations happen and they transition from the shiny optimism of youth to the cynicism that comes from having to live through the complexities of life and having to compromise their ideals in different ways. The Tinker they build up in their minds ends up being a different person entirely. The difference between who we think he is and who he ends up being is so stark that you end up wanting to re-read the beginning of the book to pick up on clues you missed the first time around.
Oddly, our current times initially connected me to the book even more because of the external uncertainties we face.
I originally wanted to write a meandering and more comprehensive review of the book to encompass the complexity and to add to the long list of five star reviews – then I read all the way through to the end and couldn’t do it.
The problem with the book, in my opinion, was that the author gave up on the characters towards the end. Eve, Katey and Tinker start out as spunky, complex characters with all the potential in the world. Towards the end, they fade away in a sense, becoming somewhat invisible and without the spirit and courage of conviction I was expecting from them. It left me with that disappointed feeling and questions of “What happened? Why couldn’t they have stood up for themselves more, cared about their lives more, done more?”..
Have you ever thought a book was beautifully written initially but then felt disillusioned and disappointed by the development of the characters? Does it stay with you for a few days?
Would I recommend the book – yes, if only for the the ability to immerse yourself in a vivid description of New York City life in the 1930s as well as in the lives of some characters who struggle to make ends meet and others who live through their own complex problems while seemingly protected by bubbles of generational wealth. The time frame is very interesting from a period perspective and the location draws you in with its history of being melting pot of people fighting to achieve their dreams.
The caveat is that you may have the same frustration with what happens with the characters and then feel annoyed with them and the author for a day or two!..
Have you read this particular book? I’d love to hear what you thought of it as well.
2 thoughts on “Does reading a book affect your day? (a semi-book review and some thoughts)”
Sounds interesting. I’ve never heard of this author before..
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I hadn’t either, my library app recommended the book and I was surprised to see the thousands of 5 star reviews when I went back later to look him up on Amazon. His later book “A Gentleman in Moscow” gets even better reviews..
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