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Rules of Civility [Paperback]

Amor Towles
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

5 Jan 2012

WHAT THEY SAID about RULES OF CIVILITY:

'Everything about this novel, set in 1930s New York, is achingly stylish - from the author's name to the slinky jacket design. Katey Kontent, daughter of Russian immigrants, and Evie Ross, from the sleepy midwest, are an ambitious, wisecracking pair who, despite lack of money and connections, aim to set the city alight. A fortuitous meeting with the apparently wealthy Tinker Grey on New Year's Eve, 1937, will change the course of both their lives.' - Guardian

'If you want shopping at Bendel's, gin martinis at a debutante's mansion and jazz bands playing until 3am, RULES OF CIVILITY has it all and more . . . While you're lost in the whirl of silk stockings, furs and hip flasks, all you care about is what Katey Kontent does next. Another one bartender, please.' - Observer

'Irresistible . . . A cross between Dorothy Parker and Holly Golightly, Katey Kontent is a priceless narrator in her own right - the brains of a bluestocking with the legs of a flapper and the mores of Carrie Bradshaw.' - Telegraph

'Towles creates a narrative that sparkles with sentences so beautiful you'll stop and re-read them. A delicious and memorable novel that will leave you wistful . . . and desperate for a martini.' - Stylist

'My book of the year. If the unthinkable happened and I could never read another new work of fiction in 2011, I'd simply re-read this sparkling, stylish book, with yet another round of martinis as dry as the author's wit.' - Herald


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre (5 Jan 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444708872
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444708875
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 22,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Amor Towles has written fiction which has appeared in The Paris Review. This is his first novel. He lives in New York.

Product Description

Review

Impossibly glamorous . . . Towles conjures up vintage New York so marvellously that it made me feel nostalgic for a place I've never been to. (The Times)

'Achingly stylish...witty, slick production, replete with dark intrigue, period details, and a suitably Katharine Hepburn-like heroine' (Guardian)

The summer's must-read: gripping and beautiful (Sunday Times)

'Terrific. A smart, witty, charming dry-martini of a novel' (David Nicholls, author of One Day)

'This is a flesh-and-blood tale you believe in, with fabulous period detail. It's all too rare to find a fun, glamorous, semi-literary tale to get lost in... While you're lost in the whirl of silk stockings, fur and hip flasks, all you care about is what Katey Kontent does next' (Viv Groskop, Observer)

'Irresistible... A cross between Dorothy Parker and Holly Golightly, Katey Kontent is a priceless narrator in her own right - the brains of a bluestocking with the legs of a flapper and the mores of Carrie Bradshaw' (Elena Seymenliyska, Telegraph)

'Because who doesn't want to be transported to Thirties Manhattan?' (Lucy Mangan)

'Jazz-age New York is the setting for martinis and girls on the make in Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. As glamorous as it is gut-wrenching, this is the summer's must-read' (ELLE)

...my book of the year. If the unthinkable happened and I could never read another new work of fiction in 2011, I'd simply re-read this sparkling, stylish book, with yet another round of martinis as dry as the author's wit (Jackie McGlone, Herald)

'Set against a soundtrack of clinking glasses and saxophones, the book is a love letter to the city and the era, so confidently written it instantly plunges you into Thirties New York. Towles creates a narrative that sparkles with sentences so beautiful you'll stop and re-read them. A delicious and memorable novel that will leave you wistful - and desperate for a martini' (Stylist)

This book feels special...Towles was born to write (Sun Herald)

'Even the most jaded New Yorker can see the beauty in Amor Towles' RULES OF CIVILITY the antiqued portrait of an unlikely jet set making the most of Manhattan.' (San Francisco Chronicle)

Rattles along at the pace of a riotous night out in the book's vividly evoked Manhattan. It is atmospheric, satisfying Great Gatsby-lite complete, with fish-out-of-water first-person narration, country house parties and a fabulously wealthy male protagonist who is not all that he seems. (Ben Hoyle, The Times)

Impossibly glamorous, RULES OF CIVILITY takes in 1930s New York with a dry martini and a side order of sharp-tongued wit. with vintage period detail verging on the nostalgic, it's a stylish tale of ambitious, wisecracking gals on the make in Manhattan...With love at its heart (love lost, regained, betrayed and shared), this book is so much more than the sum of its parts as it takes in ambition, manner and the American Dream along the way. Where it excels is not letting the style become its only substance...Rules of Civility has the feel of a classic, one that's as rich in story as in nostalgia and love for New York...With crackling prose, a compelling story and a beautiful way with words, this clever and sassy book is not only dull of charm, it's shockingly good fun too. (Fiction Uncovered)

Book Description

For fans of Fitzgerald and Capote, a witty, elegant fairytale of New York, set in 1938.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lightly Sparkling 16 Mar 2012
By C. Frost VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This isn't the kind of book I would ususally go for, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised. It was quirky and whilst written in quite a light-hearted style it caught my attention straight away. However, the plot seemed a bit lacking after a while, so I found that although when I picked it up I wanted to carry on, some nights I couldn't be bothered to pick it up before bed. It is by no means a "chick lit" book, but I would put it in the same easy-reading kind of mood.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring and Slow 17 July 2012
By CG
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I can appreciate that this book is quite nicely written but it has no proper plot or storyline and I didn't bond with any of the characters at all. Towards the end it started to get a bit more interesting but overall I thought it was a let down.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The times of their lives... 3 Aug 2011
By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Looking back in one's life can be triggered by a chance glance at a photograph. Visual reminders of a person or place can - if the subject of the picture was of importance - take you back in an instant to both painful and joyous times. Amor Towles first novel, "Rules of Civility" is the story of one such journey back for Katharine Kontent, who, while viewing a photo exhibit by Walker Evans in 1966, spots two pictures of a young man she had known and loved in the late 1930's. One picture in the exhibit was of the young man in prosperous circumstances and the other was of him in much poorer ones. As Kontent tells her husband about her life in those years, memories triggered by the pictures, she talks about the young man - Tinker Grey - and her best friend, Eve Ross, and the other friends and acquaintances she had then.

"Rules" is written in the first person, for the most part, and that voice is of Katherine Kontent.

Katharine was a social chameleon. Born from poor Russian immigrant parents on the Lower East Side, the reader doesn't learn til the end of the book her exact background. But Katey is a smart gal, a "comer" in terms of social advancement, and she wants very much to fit in with the Social Register crowd. She has a respected job in a law firm as a secretary and she manages to promote herself and her best friend and roommate, Eve Ross. A "meet cute" moment by Katey and Eve with Tinker in a bar launches them both into a wealthy group of 20-somethings. She meets - and melds - with many of the crowd and she tells their stories, along with hers. Most people weren't what they first seemed to Katey, but that's true of most of society. We all put on a "face" and tell a "story" of who or what we'd like to be, even if we're not quite that person.
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39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning debut 17 May 2011
By Asphodelia TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I decided to read "The Rules of Civility" because the blurb on the Amazon page mentioned a jazz quartet in 1937 and stated that the protagonist, Katey Kontent, knew " how to type eighty words a minute, five thousand an hour, and nine million a year and that if you can still lose yourself in the first chapter of a Dickens novel then everything is probably going to be fine". With those two lines, I had already identified with Ms Kontent, despite the fact that I have never been to New York City. If you are a male reader, please do not click away now as this is most definitely NOT chick-lit. In fact, there is plenty of drinking (Martinis and Champagne, primarily), there are cars and even a few guns here and there. Oh, and jazz.

In brief, the plot revolves around Katey and her friend Eve; they meet Theodore `Tinker' Grey, a wealthy young man while celebrating New Year's Eve in a dingy jazz club and, without giving away the story, the encounter will change their lives for ever. A love triangle is among the central elements of this story, but the triangle changes shape at one point and anyway, this is a novel with a story, rather than a plot. It's about love, of course, but also about ambition, social mobility, and that aspirational quality that is quintessential to the mythology of New York City and that will inevitably bring up comparisons with F.S. Fitzgerald's 'Great Gatsby'. Indeed, it would be hard not to see the similarities between Tinker and Jay Gatsby - young men who pretty much incapsulate the American Dream of the early 20th century at the start of the novel and who, by the end, confirm that the dream is just that: an illusion.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The American Dream 5 Jun 2011
By FictionFan TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Clever, witty and very well written, this is the tale of a year in the life of Katey Kontent, an ambitious, intelligent young New Yorker. The year in question is 1938, when the Depression is beginning to lift and war has not yet cast a shadow. Life is full of possibilities and Katey and her friend Eve are determined to live it to the full. A chance encounter with handsome, rich and single Tinker Grey is destined to change all their lives in the course of the year and set them on the eventual paths they will follow into the future.

The American Dream is encapsulated in this novel, in all its naked ambition and superficiality. To be rich, to be beautiful, to be successful - these are the things that are important. And does it matter how these things are achieved? Manhattan seems to think not, and Katey and her friends want to live the dream. Social climbing is everything and has never been more frothy or more fun - the jazz clubs, the martini drinking, the partying.

Extremely well crafted, full of `fabdabulous' language and witty, memorable turns of phrase, I enjoyed reading this book very much. Comparisons have been made to The Great Gatsby and indeed it would be hard to read this and not think of Jay Gatsby. In fact, I felt that I was making this comparison more and more as the book went on and ultimately that didn't work to the advantage of this book. Jay Gatsby has stayed in my heart for many, many years - I'm not sure that either Katey Kontent or Tinker Grey will. But I had great fun spending a little time in their company - and I'm sure you will too.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Glad that I Found it !
Wow ! What a great book, as I read the chapters, the plot only got better. The descriptions of the characters and their relationships were quite pleasant and enjoyable. Read more
Published 14 hours ago by Bruce Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars A languid and evocative portrait of New York in the final years of the...
I bought this whilst in New York, Christmas 2012, and took it as a good sign when a girl in a bar saw me holding it and stopped me to enthuse about it. Read more
Published 17 days ago by Pip Farnsworth
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't Read it!
Very slow-paced and boring. I felt I wasted my time reading this when I could've spent the time reading something else.
Published 1 month ago by yjsyjsyjs
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written
This is a very fine debut novel from an author capable of writing with great style and poise. The comparisons with Fitzgerald, and indeed, with his most accomplished work, The... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Colpeper
4.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable, glad I read it
Just a good book! Easy to read. Characters that are relatable. Harkens to a time that I don't often read about, but powerful because it is from a young woman's perspective when... Read more
Published 4 months ago by PinT
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading? The jury is still out on this!
Great descriptions of the fickleness of the thirties in New York. Good strong characters too, but somewhere the two failed to join up for me. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Scribe Dublin
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book
I love this book, it is beautifully written, and at a perfect laid back pace- great story. I want to read more books by this author!
Published 5 months ago by Sarah Pyle
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice story
This book started out very strong and. I was really pulled Into the story. However the author just went on and on too much for my liking and I found myself wishing the book would... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Sarah Lynn
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written with use of gorgeous language.
I am amongst one of many of my friends that loved this book. The use of language is sublime. Reading it was like eating the best quality creamy chocolate. Read more
Published 6 months ago by G. Bowhay Buoy
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime
Made me laugh. Made me cry. Couldn't put it down. Can't wait to read what Eve has been up to.
Published 7 months ago by Wallis
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