Tag Archives: Russia

Review: A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow
By Amor Towles
Viking, 9780670026197, September 2016, 480pp.

The Short of It:

Thoroughly charming.

The Rest of It:

I tend to shy away from historical fiction and because of that, when A Gentleman in Moscow first came out, I didn’t think much of it. However, after all this time, it’s still a bestseller and you really don’t see that with many books. So, when it came time for my book club to select our books for the year, I pitched it and I’m very glad I did.

It’s the year 1922 and Count Alexander Rostov pens a counter-revolutionary poem which lands him under house arrest at the Hotel Metropol, a grand, luxurious hotel. Because of his friends in high places, he escapes execution but finds himself imprisoned in a smallish room but for the most part, left to his own devices.

The book covers his 30+ years at the hotel and is filled with gorgeous descriptions of the decadent meals prepared and enjoyed, the people he encounters, all of which play a critical role to the story, This is escapism at its best and yet, it’s also about imprisonment as the Russian Revolution unfolds outside.

This book is delightful. Charming. Entertaining, Touching. It’s a feel-good story but is tinged with the very real-world politics of that time period. Towles does an amazing job of making every moment mean something. Nothing seems wasted. I turned that last page and that was it. I was in love.

It was announced back in February that Kenneth Branagh will play the Count in the upcoming mini-series. He is also producing the series so I expect it to be very good.

If you are one of the few who have not read it yet, you really must.

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

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Review: The Tiger

The Tiger

The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival
By John Vaillant
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780307389046, May 2011, 352pp.)

The Short of It:

A true account of a tiger with a grudge.

The Rest of It:

In December of 1997, Yuri Trush, the head of a tiger preservation team is called to the Boreal Forest to find…and kill a tiger. The tiger in question killed famed hunter Vladimir Markov and the remains left behind, indicate one of the most brutal killings ever documented. As his team hunts the killer, it becomes obvious that the tiger had a motive for killing Markov and that it wasn’t the typical “caught by surprise” killing that he first suspected.

This is a fascinating account of a tiger with a motive. To think that a tiger could remember a slight from days before and then seek out and kill the person who slighted him is both impressive and scary. Cats in general can hold a grudge and apparently big cats are no different. Vaillant, a journalist by trade does a marvelous job of creating suspense where there is little to work with. The pacing is very much like Moby Dick in that the “hunt” is supremely fascinating but the facts that fill the spaces in between? Not so much. This meant that I alternated between wonder and boredom more times than I could count and after 300 pages of it, I grew a bit tired of the pattern.

However, Vaillant does an excellent job of getting into the tiger’s head and the irony of a tiger preservationist hunting a tiger was enough to hold my interest. Although it dragged a bit on paper, the audio version was more exciting and if the movie ever moves out of the development stage, I think it will make a riveting film. Rumor has it that Brad Pitt is attached to the movie so that might entice moviegoers to see it.

Overall, non-fiction lovers will eat this one up and although the slow parts stood out for me, I couldn’t wait to get back to the tiger and that’s saying something.

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