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Rules of Civility Paperback – 5 Jan 2012

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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: 12.9 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 126,655 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


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) 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

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By FictionFan TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 5 Jun. 2011
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWER on 3 Aug. 2011
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 May 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Sometimes a book comes along that is not just good, but brilliant. So brilliant that you begin to recommend it to people - so good that you want to share it. This is one of those special books, that make you remember why you fell in love with reading.

When we first meet Katey Kontent and Evelyn Ross it is the last night of 1937 in New York. They are young, working girls, out to enjoy themselves. Into their lives comes Tinker Grey - also young, but obviously wealthy and from a totally different side of New York then the one they know. They become a threesome, although as everybody knows, a threesome never lasts. Not wishing to give away the plot, Eve and Tinker somehow become a couple of sorts, and Kate is left with her dead end job as Eve heads out into the life of the rich and playful.

This is really Kate's story and what a story it is. She is an intelligent, resourceful and brave heroine - willing to explore life to the full and take chances. We meet the rich of Manhattan - the power players and those who have no need to work. Kate needs her wits about her if she is not to be manipulated and as she attempts to make a life for herself, now she has been left behind.

I find it hard to believe that this is a debut book, as the writing is so self assured, wonderful, atmospheric and well plotted. And, as other reviewers have pointed out, this is not light and fluffy chick lit. Nothing could be further from that - this is a great novel and must easily be one of the best books about New York that I have read, for the city is easily amongst the characters that populate this novel. It is not a book that you read and forget or discard. It has a pride of place on my shelf, waiting for other books by this author, who is certainly one to watch. However, for now, just enjoy this and be thankful that it was written.
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