A book blog about Russia in English-language fiction

Tag: Amor Towles

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (2016)

Elegance. Charm. Intelligence. Wit. Such words inhabit the reviews of A Gentleman in Moscow. They apply as much to its central character, Count Alexander Rostov, as to the novel itself. A truly appropriate book to mark the halfway point on Russia in Fiction’s path to 100 reviews.

The central premise of A Gentleman in Moscow is original and intriguing. Count Rostov, a rich young Russian aristocrat, is arrested in Moscow in 1922 as the Communist regime —whose Red Army has just secured Bolshevik hegemony in Russia’s vicious civil war— brings its class warfare to bear on the citizens of the new Soviet state. His guilt assured by his aristocratic status, the Count is sentenced to house arrest. He must remain indefinitely in his place of abode. That place happens to be Moscow’s grandest hotel, the Metropol.

As the proceedings of Rostov’s brief trial state, ‘should you ever set foot outside of the Metropol again, you will be shot.’

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If Only You Knew by Alice Jolly (2006) – part one

Part two of this review is here.

If Only You Knew is Alice Jolly’s second book and her only foray into Russia as a setting. Specifically, the setting is Moscow in the year in which the Soviet Union disappeared and an independent Russia re-emerged.

The story starts in November 1990, as the novel’s first person narrator, Eva, arrives in Moscow to live with her partner, Rob, who works in democracy promotion.

The turmoil of Russia’s politics during the 13 months in which If Only You Knew takes place forms the backdrop to the emotional turmoil in Eva’s life, which is the focus of this story.

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