In Rules of Civility, Amor Towles opens the door for you, in a very gentlemanly way – I might add – to Manhattan. He ushers you right into the late 1930’s and into the life of his heroine Katey Content and her friend Eve Ross. When they met a man named Tinker Grey in the final moments of 1937, everything – for them – changed. The unfolding of their entanglement is powerful and beautiful and it takes you on a wonderful adventure. Towles whisks you around Manhattan, weaving real life and fiction into his wistfully and carefully told story.
Actually seeing the Manhattan of Amor Towles is another wonderful adventure. The novel takes you to the best, most luxurious hotels: the Plaza, the Essex House, the St. Regis, the Carlyle and the Algonquin. It seats you in the iconic New York City restaurant – 21 Club. It takes you to Fanelli’s, a restaurant which has survived the test of time in the city. You’ll shop along Fifth Avenue from Sak’s to Bendel’s and explore the Meatpacking District, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Explorers Club. But you will also visit Manhattan’s beautiful old churches and reflect for a moment and possibly find it “very peaceful to be in their company,” the way Katey Content did in Rules of Civility.
My favorite thing about Amor Towles is the incredible detail he employs in placing his characters in the late 1930’s in New York City. Now – I love locations – so this book particularly speaks to me, especially because it’s clear Towles knows exactly what he’s talking about when he mentions each and every one. My second favorite thing about Towles is that – obviously – he’s a man, but he writes in the voice of a woman. And what a job he does of it. The voice of Katey Content is wistful, wise, honest and haunting. It takes hold of you. You can find everything you need to know about Amor Towles on his website.
Finally, I don’t want to be a complainer or anything but the name – Amor Towles – is not easy. If you’re going to read his book and walk around New York City talking about him, I want to send you into your adventure fully prepared to pronounce his name. I looked it up in every way I could think of to get a pronouncer. Finally, on Youtube, I heard him pronounce his own name in this interview. It is pronounced: “A – more tolls.” Amor is two syllables, with an emphasis on the first – “A” like you got an “A” on your test. The second syllable is pronounced, “more” like, “I need more of those.” Then Towles is pronounced like “toll” as in toll road with an S on the end. Got it?
Rules of Civility Points of Interest
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