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A Gentleman in Moscow

A Novel
Written by: Amor Towles
Narrated by: Nicholas Guy Smith
Length: 17 hrs and 52 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (472 ratings)

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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, September 2016 - When we had our first child, my husband and I sullenly moved out of Manhattan, but Amor Towles was there to nurse me through that heartbreak with his debut novel and love letter to the city, Rules of Civility. Despite my perhaps unhealthy attachment to that book (I read it, then re-read it, then listened to it, then re-listened to it), I can say objectively it was one of the most crisp and intelligent books I've ever encountered. It's common to worry that a second book can't match the brilliance of a debut, but A Gentleman in Moscow doesn't disappoint. Though vastly different in tone and style, the same intelligence pulses under the surface. Continuing in the same epiphany-rich vein, keen observations, quotable moments, and tremendous insights emerge nearly every other paragraph. Long story short - and seriously there is so much more to say, but that's for my later review - don't miss this one.

Publisher's Summary

The mega-best seller with more than 1.5 million listeners and readers that is soon to be a major television series

"The novel buzzes with the energy of numerous adventures, love affairs, [and] twists of fate." (The Wall Street Journal)

He can’t leave his hotel. You won’t want to.

From the New York Times best-selling author of Rules of Civility - a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel. 

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery. 

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

©2016 Amor Towles (P)2016 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

“The book is like a salve. I think the world feels disordered right now. The count’s refinement and genteel nature are exactly what we’re longing for.” (Ann Patchett)

“How delightful that in an era as crude as ours this finely composed novel stretches out with old-World elegance.” (The Washington Post)

“Marvelous.” (Chicago Tribune)

“The novel buzzes with the energy of numerous adventures, love affairs, twists of fate and silly antics.” (The Wall Street Journal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars

Near perfect, except distance measurements

Delightfully woven treasure of a novel. A flaw I discerned though is its use of American measures, ‘miles’ particularly. Russia implemented the metric system way back in the late 19th century and before that, the versta was used to measure distance. Count Rostov’s use of miles comes across as jarringly American.

2 people found this helpful

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What a lovely book, charming, entertaining, full of surprises

I enjoyed this book even more than I thought it would. Well written, and extremely well narrated. The Metropole Hotel came to life for me, especially through a child's eyes, exploring the nooks and crannies, taken up by its illustrative resident. There was more depth and history here than one expects, and plenty of life lessons. I shall recall the Count's philosophy. A light and entertaining read.

2 people found this helpful

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Fantastic story

The gentle flow of words created an atmosphere which led one through the Count’s journey in life characterized by integrity and love. I loved it.

1 person found this helpful

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I can’t even tell you what this was about

Waste of time. Read pretty much anything else. Unnecessarily Long winded and confusing. The book could have been 1/3 the length.

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A Book You Won’t Want to Finish

This book is a rich read, beautifully written and even more artfully read. A Russian aristocrat imprisoned in genteel surroundings, reasonably well insulated but he views the changes in the world around him as from a glass tower. His philosophy is generous and realistic, his love of Russia as strong as ever. And the characters! In his imprisonment he finds a life fuller than he had known in all his travels and former privilege. When I finished this audiobook I wanted to replay it immediately.

I’ll continue to follow Amor Towles, but I’m also going to start following Nicolas Guy Smith to search for other novels he’s brought to life. His control of tone and nuance, his ability to distinguish characters so effortlessly and well, it was a pleasure. These two artists were a perfect complement to one another!

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  • WKS
  • 2020-02-01

Not to be missed!

This book is a gem. I rarely read a book so appealing. The story is fantastic and the performance unsurpassed. Thank you Amor Towels and Nicholas Guy Smith!

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Pure pleasure!

The characters, the language...each so enjoyable that I was sad to have it all come to an end. Smiply delightful.

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A Beautiful Read

Loved the count. So civilized , kind and unflappable. Loved his devotion to Russia.
Amazing that he had such a rich life,good friends, and a family within the walls of a hotel for 30 years.
Full of interesting characters.

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Beautifully written!

I loved being transported to the Metropole hotel every time I listened to this book. The narrator was flawless in his delivery and had the perfect cadence and accent.

The story evolved in such a way that you felt as though you knew everyone of the Counts loved ones and colleagues.

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A wonderful historical novel

A super story, filled with a description of the times, and the effect those times had on the people. An impressive central character, lessons learned about life, intrigue and love. I listened to it twice through, enjoyed it all over again!

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  • Cathy Lindhorst
  • 2017-08-27

A Reprieve Amidst Ugly News, Relentless Negativity

I am so glad I eventually clicked on this book. I had not read Rules of Civility, but was looking for something uplifting for easy summer reading and the description seemed to fit. What I received instead was a masterpiece which carried me to another place and time, only to remind me of the quiet goodness and dignity of everyday people in ordinary life, whom I encounter daily.

What first struck me, however, was the beautiful language. Lyrical and complex- yet so easy to read. It feels more like a conversation with the author, than a novel. The main character is both prodigious and ordinary. He speaks with the authority of royalty, yet feels at times like your grandfather who wants to share his hard fought wisdom. We are with him through tumultuous changes as he realizes the folly of the comfort found in heirlooms and traditions that are passed from generation to generation, objects that lead us to believe that 'the passing of an era would indeed be glacial.' Instead, political upheaval in Russia forces Alexander Rostov to acknowledge old ideas can be swept away in an instant--especially when the 'men in charge distrust any form of hesitation, or nuance, and who prize self-assurance above all'. He finds himself among the 'humbled', those who 'greet adulation with caution, ambition with sympathy, and condescension with an inward smile'. We follow the life of this man as he resolves that small actions can restore a sense of order.

The plot does just what it should, it twists and turns, surprises and satisfies; but this is so much more than good story telling. It's the rare book that causes you to slow down as you approach the last chapters, to feel like a friend has moved away when you turn the last page, and make the next book you start just a little harder to get into.

Lastly, the narration is perfectly matched to the story. I've listened to audio books since 1998, this is probably my favorite narrator. If you're old enough to know--he's something like Mr. French meets Shelby Foote (without the southern accent). If that's a meaningless reference to you, just know this narration is sublime and somehow articulates the inward smile and humble brilliance that is Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov.

151 people found this helpful

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  • Mark
  • 2017-12-02

Memorable novel

I liked this novel quite a bit, and loved many parts of it. I can see why this is a favorite of so many readers. That said, it is not for everyone. This is the story of a count in czarist Russia who returns after the Russian revolution. The count is put under indefinite house arrest in a tiny room of a fancy Moscow hotel. He chooses to live with dignity under the circumstances. This novel covers the 30 or so years that follow. This is a long novel, and the first half moves at a glacial pace. I'm glad that many reviewers warned me that the start was a bit slow. That is an understatement. The second half picks up to a slow/moderate pace. Yet, even at its slowest, this book was engaging. The writing is so amazing (and the reader was great). I so enjoyed listening to each sentence. The main character came so alive to me. I felt like I was living his life in a way that is rare in novels. I have always had an interest in Russia and the Soviet Union, and so I enjoyed the setting. The novel really began to engage me when the count befriended a 9 year old girl who lived in the hotel. His relationship with another child many years later was the one that was the most moving. This novel captures the dying aristocracy of a changing era, a theme that captivated many in Downton Abbey. To me, this was refreshingly original. The slow pace was needed for this story, yet there were times when I wanted it to move forward. I, unlike most readers, did not love the ending, but no spoilers here. I recommend this novel to readers who appreciate great literature and have an interest in the place and era.

30 people found this helpful

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  • Jon K. Rust
  • 2017-07-24

Brilliant, heartfelt, inspiring

The prose is elegant, the performance masterful, and the wisdom of the words something to consider, reconsider and cherish. But I will admit, when I first started listening, I had no idea where the story was going -- nor any idea of where its main character and his friends would take me. I'm so glad I persevered through the first hour, because it's turned out to be the best book I've "read" or listened to in decades -- and I read a lot. For those who like to savor life, it is a must read.

173 people found this helpful

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  • RueRue
  • 2017-02-20

Leisurely, literary, and wonderful

This is the kind of book that leaves me with a "book hangover", and that's just about the highest praise I can give. It's one of those totally immersive stories that pulls the reader /listener into its world and characters. This book is a delight, beautifully written and perfectly narrated by Nicholas Guy Smith. I wish I could dine with gentleman Alexander Rostov !

151 people found this helpful

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  • Animal matter
  • 2017-08-18

A vacation for your mind!

I was looking for a book to take my mind off of all the stress of the news. This book was perfect! I was so sad to have it end. It immediately relaxed me..held my attention and had me smiling through out. I can't recommend it more highly!

47 people found this helpful

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  • Listener
  • 2016-10-09

I Already Miss Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov

How few and far between are such finds as this wonderful book along with its outstanding performance. Moscow and distantly Russia is the backdrop to the life of the very well mannered and stoic Count Alexander Rostov, a gentleman to his core, whatever his circumstances. I loved spending time with this pleasant man along with his friends and family.

I think back a few days when I finally decided to take a chance on this book and what I might be getting - a Russian Count imprisoned in a hotel - could that really be interesting and entertaining? That shows how minuscule my imagination is compared to Amol Towles imagination. Alexander really does spend his life in the hotel but there are scenes outside it through remembrances and other characters' lives. A lovely, sometimes suspenseful story told with expressive writing with scads of thoughtful inventive details. And it was clear to me that the writer had so much affection for all his cast of characters (with the exception of a few who must be present who make life difficult).

I hope this book finds its audience so others can enjoy it as much as I did. And kudos to Nicholas Guy Smith.

25 people found this helpful

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  • Pamela
  • 2016-09-22

A Memory of a Time of Civility

Would you listen to A Gentleman in Moscow again? Why?

From the first dramatic opening of A Gentleman in Moscow when Count Rostov is sentenced to house arrest in the fabulous Metropole Hotel, we are introduced to a time when language mattered, people spoke to each other in civil terms, and fine art, music, and literature were important. Through each scene we live with the count as he actually EXPERIENCES time--not simply moving through it to get to the next moment--but living each sense--the taste of food, the emotion of a piece of music, the deep ideas of literature and philosophy through which he views his world. He promises himself at the start of his unique arrest that he will not have events make him, rather, he will make the events of his life and so rule in the time he has. One wonders at the beginning how a man will Iive in a hotel without stepping from it. The author, Amor Towels, takes the reader day by day through the creation of a world that is narrow, but full and rich. In fact, although most of us have freedom of movement, there is little that we have in our lives that Rostov does not find in the hotel--and perhaps more. The reading by Nicholas Guy Smith is absolutely superb, catching every nuance of the author--the character's dignity, his questions of life, his search for the Russian soul, the importance of the friendships in his life, his concerns and fears. I never wanted this story to end, because when reading it, I felt the slowed down moments of my own life, with all the simple pleasures we take for granted.

132 people found this helpful

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  • Ariodante
  • 2017-03-08

Too short!

This story did what I have longed for. Finally a story to transport and engage.

29 people found this helpful

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  • GW
  • 2017-05-12

Like a perfect 7-course dinner

Engaging, flowing, very enjoyable BECAUSE of its slower pace. And a perfect narrator. One of the best audiobooks I heard in recent years.

24 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 2016-09-16

Best Book This Year

If you could sum up A Gentleman in Moscow in three words, what would they be?

Masterful, Charming, Engrossing

What other book might you compare A Gentleman in Moscow to and why?

I can't think of any. Having said that, one of the best things in this book is the way that the characterization, which is rich, drives an excellent plot. I loved the characters and I miss them now that the book is behind me. This book makes excellent points about Soviet Russia, without preaching anything at all.

Which scene was your favorite?

There are so many terrific scenes that this is impossible to say, especially if one does not wish to give anything important away. The ending is magnificent, but how terrible to describe it and ruin the book for others! The Count's relationship with his young friend yields some real amusement in several scenes, in particular the one in which she comes up to him in the hotel restaurant and asks him what became of his mustaches. This is the beginning of a beautifully drawn relationship. A scene in which the child is testing Newton's theory of gravity remains in the mind's eye. There are many scenes that are visually appealing, in addition to being clever and spinning the plot along nicely. If this isn't made into a movie, I cannot imagine why. There is so much in this that is tailor made for cinematic treatment.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Impossible. It is much too long, BUT yes I wanted to just keep listening rather than attending to things...

Any additional comments?

Loved it. At the end, I went back and listened to the beginning and found myself thinking, "Ah!!" I really could have listened to the whole thing again! There were so many nuances and there was such depth of detail that revealed itself when I listened again. What a great book!

66 people found this helpful

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  • Veronica Puttock
  • 2017-06-10

Terrible pronunciation but otherwise great

Great story, loved it. Great narrator too, except for his completely bizarre pronunciation of lots of words (very British accent but American intonation in all the wrong places). And sorry but it was absolutely cringeable when he was speaking French and Italian!
It could have been so much more pleasing on the ear.

3 people found this helpful