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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 (560 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

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

The mega best seller with more than two million listeners, soon to be a major television series

“Perhaps the ultimate quarantine read . . . A Gentleman in Moscow is about the importance of community; the distance of a kind act; and resilience. It's a manual for getting through the days to come.” (O, The Oprah Magazine)

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
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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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A gentleman in Moscow

Wonderful, an experience to remember
Beautifully written, beautifully read
I will certainly read more books by Amor Towles

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to heavy

I finally finished it. to hard to follow. great literature. Recommended on your off time for culture.

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I loved this book.

There are some books that become old friends during a single reading. Count Alexander Illych Rostov, former person under house arrest at the Metropole Hotel in Moscow is such a person for me. A wonderful, kind, wise, and gentle person who serves in the main restaurant at the hotel. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

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excellent telling of an amazing tale

the author has done an amazing job of bringing the characters and location to life and the narrator tells the story on such a way you feel there together

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The Passage of Time, and the Persistence of Beauty

Loved both the book, and the production. The advice that we are either masters of, or mastered by our circumstances alone is worth the price of admission.

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Marvelous story and performance!

I thoroughly enjoyed the book! it makes me want to check Rules of Civility. Outstanding!

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Perfect companion for self-isolation

A Gentleman in Moscow is about a Russian aristocrat under house arrest - a perfect companion for anyone in voluntary or ordered isolation. Being a Russophile, the narrative made me want to re-open all my Russian novels, plays, and poetry and re-read them or start them for the first time. As the novel advanced, I began to "titrate" my reading - slowing to one chapter an evening to postpone the inevitable moment of ending.

It was brilliantly narrated by Nicholas Guy Smith. But I have a small complaint, and a question. My complaint is having to listen to his not-quite-correct pronunciation of French and his not-well-researched pronunciation of Russian. Neither had to be perfect but I don't understand why he couldn't have done a bit more homework to "get it right", or at least to "get it better." My question is this: why did Smith alter almost every musical reference in the novel? Just small little departures from the text - I'm wondering if it was just a little game he liked to play. There's a mere glosses on a wonderful story wonderfully told.

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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.

169 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.

35 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.

177 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 !

152 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!

48 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.

134 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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  • workerbee777
  • 2018-10-10

Conversational Olympics

Man, I was so bored listening to this book. If I had to describe the book in a few words, I'd call it Conversational Olympics. This is not a thriller, suspense, romance, or even a drama. It's a series of anecdotes or vignettes, little stories within one big story, that range from thoughts about what the main character ate at breakfast, to philosophical conversations about society at the time. The performance of the reader was very good, and the writing was a poetry of words. But, there is very little action, and the Count (main character) was fairly bland, although accomplished in the ways an aristocrat might be of the times. I thought some of the other characters had more color, felt more real, than the Count. At least they got angry, expressed themselves emotionally and physically that I could relate to. I kept waiting for something important to happen in the book. But, it just plateaued at the start and kept plateauing throughout. Although this book falls in the category of historical fiction, I'd call it more fiction than historical. Historical events are mentioned here and there, but they are glossed over. I made it to Chapter 23, but just could not finish it.

20 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.

4 people found this helpful

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  • W. Perben
  • 2020-06-20

enchanting!<br />

I was transported to another time, and fell in love with this unexpectedly sympathetic character