A Gentleman In Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow
by Amor Towles


A Gentleman In Moscow revolves around the romantic idea of a perfect gentleman and a splendid hotel.

The book begins with a description of your classic idea of a gentleman; tall, well-mannered, polite, gracious. Age: about 40?
After the Bolshevik revolution, he is forced to move out of his suite in the hotel in which he has been living for the past 10 years (?). The Count is relocated in a smaller room on a lower floor and is placed under house arrest. From this day forward, he cannot leave the hotel.
There are various descriptions of the important locations and characters in the hotel: Emile, the chef; Andrey, the maitre’d.
Over the course of his time at the hotel the Count meets many new people, who eventually all play an important role later in his life.
Foremost among those people is Nina whom the Count meets when Nina is 6? They develop a friendship and over the years become close confidants as they explore the hotel together. Nina eventually leaves the hotel with her family.
The Count remains at the hotel, striking up an affair with a movie star, Anna, and developing more familiar relationships with the staff of the hotel various sub-businesses; restaurant, bar, barbershop, tailor, etc. He almost commits suicide but is convinced (indirectly) by a blind man he had made friends with not to.
Many years later, Nina returns to the hotel with her child, Sophia, age six. Nina tells the Count that she must leave for Serbia to find her husband who has gone missing. She implores the Count to take Sophia for what she imagines will only be two or three weeks.
Sophia remains under the care of the Count for much longer than that. Sophia begins referring to the Count as “papa” and their relationship develops from something polite and cold to a warm and loving relationship.
Sophia grows into a smart, driven, beautiful young woman and eventually leaves the hotel to perform with the Moscow Orchestra (she has become an accomplished pianist). The Orchestra performs in Paris and while she is there, Sophia escapes to the American Embassy (under the specific direction of her and the Count’s plan) to meet with another one of the Count’s acquaintances become friend, Richard, who is the American Ambassador to France (?).
The book ends with the Count escaping the hotel after saying goodbye to all his friends there and returning to his childhood town.

My takeaways

The book helps the reader to appreciate the culture and history of Russia.

The book argues that a gentleman remains a gentleman no matter their nation of heritage.

It offers an interesting perspective on the passage of time.

Many life lessons are delivered. This is one of the easier to quote ones:

“ The first was that if one did not master one’s circumstances, one was bound to be mastered by them; and the second was Montaigne’s maxim that the surest sign of wisdom is constant cheerfulness. ”