Audiobook Review: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

A Gentleman in MoscowA Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Narrated by Nicholas Guy Smith
Release Date: September 6, 2017
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

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.

A Gentleman in Moscow is the story of Count Alexander Rostov, a Russian aristocrat who was sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol hotel during World War I. Alexander is a true well-mannered gentleman with a droll sense of humor that I found highly amusing. The prose was creative and also funny at times. One of my favorite lines, when the Count is trying to move a mattress:

“…the mattress was decidedly against it. When he bent over to lift the mattress from the bedsprings, it crossed its arms, held its breadth and refused to budge…he leaned it against the wall and warned it to stay put, if it knew what was good for it.”

There even better ones but I listened to most of the book on audio and didn’t make notes of them. I wish I had!

Because the Count is insulated in the hotel, not too much of the outside world is presented in detail. I was glad of that since Russia in the 1920s through the 1950s was not the happiest place. There were definitely some very serious and even tragic parts but they were balanced by the humor.

One aspect of the book I enjoyed is the Count’s friendship with Nina, which starts when she is nine years old and staying at the hotel with her father. She and the Count are so sweet and funny together. He is much like an older brother or uncle to her.

A Gentleman in Moscow was a pick for a book club I’m in and there was much to discuss at the meeting. For instance, could we have survived living in one place and never being able to even go outside for years on end? There were so many other questions to discuss but telling you what they were would lead to spoilers. You’ll just have to trust me that it’s a great book club selection.

Because I was rushing to get the book read in time for our meeting (poor planning on my part), I both listened to it on audio while driving, etc. and read it in print while at home. It was interesting to be able to compare and contrast each method of consuming the book. It was wonderful in print but even better in audio because the English narrator did a great job of delivering the Count’s little quips.

I love comedies of manners about the aristocracy and this fit the bill. It’s going on my list as one of the best books I’ve read this year.


  • rhapsodyinbooks

    So many times when listening to a book in the car I pull over and make notes!

  • S.G. Wright

    It sounds like you liked the audio even better — I think I will get the audio. I’ve had the print version for awhile but havent gotten to it.