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Rules of Civility
Rules of Civility
Author: Amor Towles
Set in New York City in 1938, Rules of Civility tells the story of a watershed year in the life of an uncompromising twenty-five-year- old named Katey Kontent. Armed with little more than a formidable intellect, a bracing wit, and her own brand of cool nerve, Katey embarks on a journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool through the upper...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9780143121169
ISBN-10: 0143121162
Publication Date: 6/26/2012
Pages: 352
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.

3.9 stars, based on 102 ratings
Publisher: Penguin
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

usseryron avatar reviewed Rules of Civility on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
Incredible novel. It captures very well what I imagine to be the social strata of 30s NYC--as effectively as Fitzgerald. Other reviews say that the theme of the book is personal choices and how those choices often have far-reaching implications in our lives. As one born into the lower middle class who later migrated to NYC, for me it is all about access and its price.
The two main female characters, boarding house roommates who dream of breaking into the upper class, get an opportunity to dip their toes in the water of the very rich and privileged. But they find that true access or full immersion sometimes can cost aspirants their souls.

Caution: a side effect of this novel is that you will crave a martini while reading it.
coconutlibrary avatar reviewed Rules of Civility on + 12 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
Type: {Impress Your Friends Read: notable; prize-winner or all around intelligent crowd conversation piece.}
Rating: {An Unputdownable: Couldnt eat or sleep until I finished this book.}

Why Youre Reading It:
- You want to read the book that I am calling my favorite of the year, so far!
- New York City, 1930′s? Youre hooked!
- A smart, witty, & complex variety of characters are enough to convince you to read a book.
- Beautiful prose, continuously moving plots, rich details, and convincing story lines make a book a keeper in your eyes.

What I Thought:

Hello, and welcome to New York City in the 1930′s. Not only will you find the glamour, the music, the lingo, and the romance of one of the golden ages of the city, you will also meet one of the most refreshing protagonists in literature Katey Kontent. Lets follow Miss Kontent through a flashback to the year of 1938 a year that defined her life and meet the exquisite cast of characters that Amor Towles creates on the pages of his debut novel, The Rules of Civility. Against the backdrop of a time when anyone could become anything and women were starting to make their own paths to the top, Towles creates a peephole back through time that has you turning page after page wishing you could actually be there, even just for a moment, to catch a glimpse of the sleek and confident Anne, the charming Tinker, the lively Eve, sweet and sincere Wallace, or intelligent, witty, down-to-earth Katey. (This is the second book of the year with a character named Wallace. Though Im still waiting for a female Wallace to emerge in literature this books Wallace was a tribute to the name!)

My very favorite read this year, landing a spot on my favorite books ever, I was absorbed by this delicious novel. Balancing the thin line between eating it up in one bite but knowing how much I would regret doing that once it was finished I paced myself so that I could enjoy the company of this book for as long as possible. Towles did an extraordinary job of creating the scene, making realistic characters, and spinning a plot that a reader can care about. The lessons in these pages are timeless even if the era in which they are portrayed is exact (and thoroughly enjoyable). I highly, highly recommend this book to everyone. There are very few books that I re-read, but this will be one of them. The charming dialogue, the poignant passages, the intelligent references, and the three-dimensional characters make this poetic, philosophical book, about life and the individual experiences that shape it, fun to read and easy to digest.

Over and over, I exclaimed to myself (out loud of course, because it doesnt count if people dont think youre crazy), I love this book. I LOVE this book! I also can not get over how much I adore the character of Katey; and how fast they will probably turn this into a movie (and probably should), but how very, very sad Ill be because this is a book that belongs to the imagination its that magical.
burtonreview avatar reviewed Rules of Civility on + 25 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
Every now and then you read a book that grabs you from page one and you can't set it down. For this one, the first few pages were a bit iffy with me attempting to get settled into the upcoming story because the dialogue was just weird and couldn't pinpoint who was what or who and why I was there. An evil fleeting thought even passed through urging me to set it down and move on. That cover was just mesmerizing enough to pull me in.

And like a little Energizer bunny I kept going and going and going and going and going... I felt like I had become a New Yorker all over again within these pages.. I neglected to cook dinner for the kids and opted to read instead.. I managed to take a shower.. and then I kept going and going. I finished the book at midnight fully knowing that I had to wake up for work in six hours. At 352 easy pages, I was completely immersed in the characters, and the story. Why was it so tantalizing? I can't really put my finger on it. It was atmospheric with characters that were over the top, being lovable and hate-able all at once.

These characters were a mixture of stereotypical New Yorkers, but it was set back in the quaint year of 1938. It was a humdinger of a year for the main character, Katey, as she and her best friend Evie meet up with the dashing Theodore "Tinker" Grey and toast the town. A grand time was had by the trio until the unthinkable happens one rainy night. Everything changes for the new friends and it wasn't all good.

The storyline focuses on Katey, Evie, and Tinker but includes a host of circles of friends who flit in and out of Katey's life. Most of all, there was New York. I couldn't help but to imagine my great-grandfather and the extended family living out the lives that the book exhibited in that long ago era. The narrative was descriptive in a methodically engrossing sort of way and I simply couldn't tear myself away from it. There were several levels of the social classes at work in the story, but predominantly it was a bit more of a slice of life of the well-to-do at high society clubs like 21, Bentley autos and fancy shmancy hotel rooms. And there was Katey, watching it all, invited in, but not exactly a part of that world as she is a straight-laced hard working girl who keeps perfect time. She is in love with Tinker although we don't really know for sure if she knows it, and she dates others and we wonder if she'll ever see the light. But then we wonder who really is this Tinker fellow anyway.

I would be remiss if I did not mention a major pet peeve, though. The form of the novel is a bit odd, with the prologue and epilogue thing in a novel and zero quotation marks. Zero. Major complete total annoyance about the lack of the tried and true proper written format. Which is why this is not a 5 star for me. Please use proper punctuation in a book. I get it that you're totally cool and innovative in your non-conformist ways as a debut author, but get over it. So, with the title of the book mentioning "rules" (*I used quotation marks purposely), I wonder if there is a hidden meaning here. Whatever it was I missed it. Otherwise, Tinker used George Washington's little handbook of Rules of Civility to help fit in with high society, yet with all these polite mannerisms he lacked the sincerity of it all as it didn't run core deep.

Despite the lack of quotation marks, Rules of Civility is purely fantastic stuff. Loved this story and if you are/were a New Yorker, or even maybe want to be, this novel really shines just for that 1930's New Yorker feel it embraces. Think F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edith Wharton, etc. And it was kind of a shame I didn't make this one drag out a smidgen longer so that I could tote that quaint cover around a bit longer.
njmom3 avatar reviewed Rules of Civility on + 1309 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
A beautiful first novel! The Rules of Civility presents a year in the life of Katey Kontent, a young woman living in New York. The book creates a vivid picture of New York society in 1938 - the tail end of the Depression and the brink of World War 2.

The "Rules of Civility" refer to the 110 ten rules for civil behavior as transcribed by George Washington. Whether or not they lead to civil behavior, you will discover in the book.

At the center of this book is the idea of how certain moments and certain decisions forever change the course of our lives and the lives of so many around us.

I spent two days straight reading the book!
BigGreenChair avatar reviewed Rules of Civility on + 446 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I read the Gentleman of Moscow and think Amor Towles writing is superb, so had to read this too. In the first half the writing was also superb but the plot started to fall apart for me toward the last quarter of the book---not sure why, too many things happening, too many changes/names? The flow was disrupted. But as far as his writing, write on! Superb writer. Reminded me of the writing of Wallace Stegner and that's saying a lot.
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reviewed Rules of Civility on + 80 more book reviews
I read A Gentleman in Moscow first and liked that one much better. This book seemed a little frivolous, did not finish it but will at some time.


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