Sometimes, I feel really lucky that I got to read such a good book. I feel really lucky that I got to read Rules of Civility by Amor Towles.
It’s New Year’s Eve moving from 1937 to 1938. Katey and Evey are trying to extend the last dollar they have to the New Year, but they’ve failed and it’s only 10. And that’s when Tinker Grey walks into the lackluster jazz bar. Ever the opportunist, Evey makes the moves to get the party started with Mr. Grey. Two young independent women and one rich guy. You may think you know where this is going, but it’s not there! After a fun night on the town, Tinker Grey becomes a friend who now invites the girls into his circles. What starts off as fine and dandy quickly becomes complicated with a major car accident. All three characters strike out on new paths. But the path we get to follow is the best of all, and that is Katey’s.
Katey is the completely self-aware and mature narrator that this story needs. She is not only a young woman, but a capable, young, working woman. We follow her as she moves from typist to old editor’s assistant to major editor’s assistant. While her work keeps her busy, she has a healthy social life, thanks in part to the people she has met through Tinker. What I love about Katey is that she makes every decision for herself. She chooses where to go, and even if it doesn’t land her where she thought she was going, she can rest assured that it was completely her decision to be there.
“In our twenties, when there is still so much time ahead of us, time that seems ample for a hundred indecisions, for a hundred visions and revisions—we draw a card, and we must decide right then and there whether to keep that card and discard the next, or discard the first card and keep the second. And before we know it, the deck has been played out and the decisions we have just made will shape our lives for decades to come.” (Towles, Rules of Civility)
I not only loved this book for the story. I loved the language. I wanted to write down so many quotes, but thankfully, there is a page on Goodreads dedicated to quotes from the book. I selected a few to highlight below. This book made me so thankful for English and for elegance and for good content.
- “It is a lovely oddity of human nature that a person is more inclined to interrupt two people in conversation than one person alone with a book.”
- “If we only fell in love with people who were perfect for us…then there wouldn’t be so much fuss about love in the first place.”
- “As a quick aside, let me observe that in moments of high emotion – whether they’re triggered by anger or envy, humiliation or resentment – if the next thing you’re going to say makes you feel better, then it’s probably the wrong thing to say.”
- “I’ve come to realize that however blue my circumstances, if after finishing a chapter of a Dickens novel I feel a miss-my-stop-on-the-train sort of compulsion to read on, then everything is probably going to be just fine.” (For the reader in all of us.)
I highly recommend Rules of Civility. It’s a book that I wanted to climb into and stay for a good long while. It just grabbed me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I can’t wait for the next book from Mr. Towles. Whatever it is.
What have you read recently that has just grabbed you?