Book Review: Rules of Civility

Rules of Civility

Amor Towles

Viking Adult

352 pages

Katey Kontent is a working girl living in New York in the 30s.  She is living in a boarding house with her friend Eve, and the two girls are enjoying life.  They don’t have much money, but they appreciate what their lifestyle affords them.

The two girls are out one night at a local restaurant listening to a jazz band when they meet a man named Tinker Grey.  Tinker is a wealthy banker who seems to have been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and his charm and wit enamors both girls straight off.  The threesome become fast friends but both girls seem to be battling a silent war for Tinker’s affections.

Plot wise, I have only touched on the very beginning of the book (we’re talking first thirty pages or so!), but I think all the little twists and turns of the novel would be spoiled were I to go any further, so I will let you all wonder where the book goes from there.

Katey seemed so innocent at the beginning of the book, but as Rules of Civility wore on, her characterization seemed much more dynamic.  There were some flaws in her character, but they seemed so real. She seemed so self assured, yet some of the decisions she made had me wondering whether or not she was doing what was best for her, or whether she was bowing down to the wishes of others.  Other times, her decisions seemed impetuous and too headstrong, which made me uncomfortable.  Yet all her flaws  only added to the realistic portrayal.

I was insanely impressed with Towles’ debut, and the way he drew me in so effortlessly.  The characters all had their issues, and at times I wanted to shake each and every one of them.  At the same time, I was transported into Katey’s world.  Even her workplace(s) had me intrigued.  I loved the insight into the secretarial life, which was more indicative of the time period than maybe anything else.

I will certainly read more from Towles, as this was a stunning debut.

Other Reviews:

Linus’s Blanket

The Girl From the Ghetto

The Literate Housewife Review

Medieval Bookworm

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review.

9 Responses

  1. Well you certainly have me intrigued. And the 30s is such a fascinating and under-appreciated time period. Thanks for the suggestion!

  2. NPR had an absolutely glowing review of this last week, which prompted me to put it on my TBR list. So happy to read another positive review of it!

  3. Thanks for linking to my review of this book.

    I’m also thrilled that you were impressed by Towles as I was!

  4. For some reason I didn’t necessarily expect much when I read the synopsis but I’ve read good things including this. Now I’m thinking I NEED to read this and add it to my New York Shelf!! Thanks for the great review!

  5. As soon as I finish my current read, this one is next. I can’t wait! Great review.

  6. I’m hoping to get my hands on this one because it sounds so good! I think we can all relate to flawed characters because they are so real.

  7. I got this book thinking it had some potential but was probably a bit on the light side for my tastes. Clearly it has much more depth than I was expecting and now I’m really looking forward to it. Thanks for the great review!

  8. This sounds like an interesting book – you intrigued me by mentioning that you’re only giving us a synopsis of the first thirty pages 🙂 I love going in to a book blind so am happy about that! Will add it to my list.

  9. Thank you for sharing this title with us!

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