In his smashing debut, Towles (A Gentleman in Moscow) details the intriguing life of Katherine Kontent and how her world is upended by the fateful events of 1938. Kate and her roommate, Evelyn Ross, have moved to Manhattan for its culture and the chance to class up their lives with glamour-be it with jazz musicians, trust fund lotharios, or any man with a hint of charm who will pay for dinner and drinks. Both Kate and Evelyn are enamored of sophisticated Tinker Grey, who they meet in a jazz club; he appears to be another handsome, moneyed gent, but as the women vie for his affection, a tragic event may seal a burgeoning romance's fate. New York's wealthy class is thick with snobbery, unexpected largesse, pettiness, jealousies, and an unmistakable sense of who belongs and who does not, but it's the undercurrent of unease-as with Towles's depiction of how the upper class can use its money and influence to manipulate others' lives in profoundly unsavory ways-that gives his vision depth and complexity. His first effort is remarkable for its strong narrative, original characters and a voice influenced by Fitzgerald and Capote, but clearly true to itself.
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We'll be reading Amor Towles' first novel Rules of Civility for our January selection. We can explore what his writing was like before the gargantuan bestseller "A Gentleman in Moscow". Copies of this book are available to check out from the temporary library in the Slusser Center, lower level (closed the week of Christmas). Discussion will be Wednesday January 23rd at 1pm in the Community Room at the library.