Amor Towles debut novel Rules of Civility captures the rules of New York and places George Washington’s 110 Rules of Civility in the Appendix where they rightfully belong! This read is a love relationship with New York, a city that authors its own rules!
What could be more compelling? The earnest daughter of hard-working Russian immigrants born and raised on the Lower East Side. A near-do-well wanna-be who will do anything to be accepted and regain lost riches. A sweet and adventurous mid-western transplant. The swells of the Upper East Side trust fund gang, a hard charging publisher and of course “ladies who lunch .” The players are all there and their personalities explode in a wonderful page-turning story set in the post depression era of the late 1930s. New York is bouncing back, regaining its lost energy, wealth, world status and rebuilding with money, music, bricks, mortar and unlimited opportunity for those willing to dare a ride on a rainbow.
The book’s intimacy with New York is reminicent of Pete Hamill’s Downtown and Tabloid City. There is a hint of F. Scott Fitzgerald and even a flash of Hemingway. ” By nine o-clock the restaurant would feel like the center of the universe.” The 21 Club, the village jazz clubs before red velvet rope lines, the big bands, the after swing parties and the glorious and transparent lives of trust fund swells of the Upper East Side and Oyster Bay. Towles builds characters who are looking out, looking in and some who don’t give a damn about all the action swirling around them. Falling in and out of love with intimacy left to the imigination.
Rules of Civility is a New Yorker’s book but just like the city, it is there for the enjoyment of anyone willing to seize the moment. This is a very, very good first novel which may well have a movie running through its veins.
Simply said, enjoy!