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Book Club Kits: A Gentleman in Moscow

Alamance County Public Libraries offer Book Club Kits for check out to area book clubs. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book and a reading guide.

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Book Summary

"In all ways a great novel, a nonstop pleasure brimming with charm, personal wisdom, and philosophic insight. This book more than fulfills the promise of Towles' stylish debut, Rules of Civility." - Kirkus Reviews (starred) From the New York Times bestselling 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. With his breakout debut novel, Rules of Civility, Amor Towles established himself as a master of absorbing, sophisticated fiction, bringing late 1930s Manhattan to life with splendid atmosphere and a flawless command of style. Readers and critics were enchanted; as NPR commented, "Towles writes with grace and verve about the mores and manners of a society on the cusp of radical change." A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count 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 a doorway 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"-- Provided by publisher.

Read an excerpt.

Discussion Questions

1. What was your initial impression of Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov? How did your perception of him change over the course of the novel?

2. The Count chose to stay in Russia following the revolution. Why do you think he stayed while other members of his family left? Do you think he should have made a different choice?

3. It’s difficult for the Count to accept his sentence and lifetime confinement. How do you think he was able to make peace with his situation?

4. How is the Count insulated from the turbulent history of Russia? How does he view the historical events happening in the world?

5. In what ways was the outside world brought to the Count? Can you point to specific scenes in which the Count was able to imagine and experience Russia despite his imprisonment?

6. How is the Count changed by his confinement in the Metropol? In what ways does he retain his identity as a gentleman and aristocrat? In what ways does his identity change?

7. Which characters have the greatest impact on the Count’s life? Reflect on how he might have interacted with these characters in his former life.

8. How is Nina the Eloise of the Metropol? What does she bring to the Count’s life and what does he represent to her?

9. How does the Count decide to create a life of purpose despite his confinement? Do you think he lived a happy life in spite of, or perhaps even because of, his imprisonment?

10. How do you think the Count’s life would have been different had he left Russia following the revolution?