Review: Rules of Civility

Rules of Civility

Rules of Civility
By Amor Towles
Penguin Books, 9780143121169, 2012, 368pp.

The Short of It:

Friendship, love, and duty collide amid the backdrop of a glittering New York City in 1938.

The Rest of It:

This is one of those stories that is so full of rich imagery and well-drawn characters that I doubt I can do it justice in summarizing it here. Nevertheless, I shall try.

After Eve accidently dumps a bowl of food into Katie’s lap, the two become fast friends. Eve, or Evey, is beautiful, vivacious and impossible to ignore. Her flirtatious nature and her knack for always knowing where the party is, attracts Katie who is slightly more down-to-earth and sensible. Katie is a working class girl, trying to make a name for herself in the publishing world. But when the work day is over, it’s Evey who takes Katie by the hand and the two find themselves living it up with drinks paid for by others. It’s a fast crowd but not without some memorable finds.

One of those finds is Tinker Grey. Charming, dashing, full of wit and humor, he befriends Katie and Evey and the three of them pal around the city enjoying a lot of gin, and the memorable meals to go with it. But after an accident which leaves Eve in a precarious situation, Tinker, perhaps feeling guilty over his involvement, takes Evey in so that she can rehabilitate in luxury. Although Katie and Tinker are far from a thing, they do share something that he and Evey don’t and so this new living arrangement gives them all pause. How do you cage a wild thing? How can Tinker go on with his life while tending to his sense of duty?

This story gave me a lot to think about. If you enjoyed A Gentleman in Moscow, you will enjoy this book as well but it will leave you feeling a little sad which is why I think it took me awhile to finish. Sad, the way nostalgia can make you feel, wistful and longing for how it used to be. These relationships are complicated and fluid and every time I turned a page, I was presented with some new big idea to ponder. This is why I read this book slowly, savoring each interaction.

One big bonus for me is that Katie and Tinker are readers. There is much literature talk and mention of classic books such as Great Expectations. I also cannot help but mention that parts of it reminded me of one of my favorite movies of all time, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Overall, I very much enjoyed this story and these characters will stay with me for a very long time.

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

16 thoughts on “Review: Rules of Civility”

  1. Glad you liked this one. I liked the setting and characters but, think I enjoyed A Gentleman in Moscow a tiny bit more.

    1. Gentleman, will always have a place in my heart. I loved The Count. It was supposed to be made into a TV series starring Kenneth Branaugh. It was supposed to come out a long time ago. Oh, it’s good.

  2. I’ve listened to only half a dozen audiobooks in my life – and this was one of them. It was pleasant enough, but I don’t just don’t ‘get’ a book by listening, so it really didn’t make all that much impact on me. I wish I’d actually read it.

    1. I am like you. Audio, unless it’s read by someone fabulous, tends to not hit me in the same way as print. I liked A Gentleman in Moscow more than this one, but there was something about this one that reminded me of so many other books. He does include a lot of classic literature references but it reminded me of Gatsby too even though the decade was different. There was a slow spot which is why I ended up giving it 4 starts on Goodreads but by the time I turned the last page I was pretty in love with it.

    1. I believe he would make excellent company as well. He used to be an investment banker/broker which I find so interesting. There is an element of wealth in his two books so far. We’ll have to see how his new one plays out. It comes out in October!

  3. How fun to have a book that discusses books within its story. I had this one on my shelves for a long time, never really got around to it and gave it away. Hmmm. Maybe not my best move.

  4. I think maybe I have a copy of this somewhere. I want to read it but will have to wait until this fall if I really attempt my 20 Books of Summer.

    1. I agree that there is a section of the book where Towles goes on a bit much. It got laggy about 2/3 of the way through. And yes, a love letter to Manhattan. I liked that. It reminded me of Breakfast at Tiffany’s with the implied gigolo reference.

  5. I loved this novel! I gave it a 4.5/5 rating and wrote the following on my blog: Bravo! I have a new favorite author. A Gentleman in Moscow was my #1 read in 2017, and as soon as I finished reading it for the second time (in preparation of my book club’s discussion), I knew I had to read Towles’ earlier novel, Rules of Civility. I loved both stories! Towles’ prose is smart and luxurious and I found myself reading slowly, savoring each sentence. I enjoyed the wit and charm of A Gentleman in Moscow and I am in awe of this author’s debut novel. What talent!

    I can’t wait to read The Lincoln Highway.

    1. You described his writing so well. Luxurious is a great way to describe it.

      I can’t wait for his new one either.

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