Books and Bagels and Morning Book Break Book Discussions on
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Rating: In Morning Book Break, the book received ratings between a 1.0 and 5.0+. The average of the ratings was 4.43. Thirteen members gave the book a 5.0. This was an unusually high rating as compared to past selections.
In Books and Bagels, the book received ratings between 4.5 and 5.0+. The average of the ratings was 4.92. Ten members gave the book a 5+. This book received the highest ratings ever for this club.
Books and Bagels: Members fell in love with the Count and paced their reading to allow the magical experience to continue. Members did not want their time with the Count to end. The members were simply delighted with the compelling, witty language used by Towles. Many members stated that the Count was their favorite character that has been presented in a fictional novel. Fortunately, we had a member share some actual experiences of living under Soviet control and although members agreed the novel unrealistically portrayed the house arrest of the Count, overall, the fictional story was enlightening and engaging. Members have been recommending this original, humorous novel to their friends and family.
Morning Book Break: Members really enjoyed the Count. He was human, caring, and likeable. Many members felt like the Count was their friend and thought this was a remarkable achievement for Towles. Many members felt like the novel engaged them directly. The author was masterful in creating a well-developed story line which wove in the history of the Russian Revolution without being too preachy. Many members have been recommending this enchanting, accessible novel to friends and colleagues. Several members barely tolerated the novel and found the narrative to be way too long and too descriptive.
Discussion centered on the characters presented within the novel:
- The protagonist, the Count and his amazing attributes and transformation
- His suicide attempt and the effect of the handyman and the bees
- Nina—the Eloise of the Metropol
- Friendship between the Count and Nina
- Nina as an agent of change
- Sofia’s influence on the Count
- The Count’s decision to get Sofia out of Russia, while remaining behind
- Anna—the Count’s lover
- Did you expect the ending? In your mind how does the story end?
- Triumvirate—Andrey, Emilie, and the Count
- Mishka, Osip, & Richard and their perspectives on the meaning of the revolutionary era
- Douglas Smith of the Wall Street Journal wrote in his review: “Over four million people perished from famine in the U.S.S.R. in the early 1930’s…To flippantly refer to this moment as “unkind”…speaks to a disturbing lack of empathy and even moral imagination.” We discussed whether the author was successful in balancing the Count’s life under house arrest with what was actually going on in Russia. This was a very interesting discussion as we also discussed the role of fiction in conveying historical events.
- We discussed to what extent A Gentleman in Moscow is a novel of purpose.
- Discussion on the Structure & Layout of the novel
- Role of footnotes—helpful or distracting
- The majority of the novel is told in third person from the Count’s perspective. There is, however, an overarching narrator with a different perspective. This narrator appears in the footnotes, Addendums, and the historical introductions of 1930, 1938, and 1946. We discuss the differences between this narrator’s POV & tone and the Count’s.
- Amor Towles created quite a structure that incorporated the passage of time in a complex way. We discussed how this affected our reading of the novel.
- We discussed the significance of Casablanca.
For other books by Amor Towles in our collection, please click here.
Watch Becky Anderson of Anderson’s bookstore located in Naperville interview Amor Towles.
A Gentleman in Moscow was her favorite book of the year.