book cover I've just finished the most delightful book I have read in a very long time. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles is simply breath-taking in the way it spins its magic. I freely confess to being extremely sentimental, easy to tears in a film or even music, but I don't recall having wept tears of joy and satisfaction at the end of a story, at least not recently.

There's no point dwelling on the stylistic niceties; Towles has a fine way with words. Or on the plot twists which, even as they predict some possibility, leave plenty of room for surprise. Reading a real book, usually without a pencil in my hand, I dog-eared three pages to remind myself of particular sentences.

Of Anna Urbanova's return to the stage (p. 338)

[T]hese were not roles for the blue-eyed and blushing. They were roles for women who had known the bitterness of joy and the sweetness of despair.

On the night of Sofia's arrival (p. 267)

Like in a reel in which the dancers form two rows, so that one of their number can come skipping brightly down the aisle, a concern of the Count's would present itself for his consideration, bow with a flourish, and then take its place at the end of the line so that the next concern could come dancing to the fore.

On a chance meeting in the hotel bar (p. 158)

The young Brit held out his hand.
"Charles Abernethy — presumptive heir to the Earl of Westmoreland, financier's apprentice, and bowman of the losing Cambridge crew at Henley in 1920."

Does that throw all the rest of Towles' research into doubt?1 Only for a minute or two.

There's talk of a TV series. I'm not bothered. Read the book.


Amor Towles A Gentleman in Moscow. Viking, 2016.

  1. Quite by chance, I today discovered Gell-Mann Amnesia, from which I have suffered, unknowingly, all my adult life. 

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