I am by no means immune to the charms of literary fiction. Indeed, I have advanced degrees in the location and time period of Towles’ book. However, not even the supposed charms of Count Rostov or the Hotel Metropol could keep me interested in this literary tale, bereft as it is of bon mots, startling insights, clever turns of phrase or the economy or beauty of language. Not only does not nothing happen through the entire course of the book, there is not even a hint that something will happen. Ever!
This isn’t a plot/character line (single, young, first-generation woman on her own in Manhattan in the 1930s, making her way through the restrictions of societal conventions) I’m usually attracted to, but I picked it up because I wanted to read Towles A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW but found his debut novel first.
The book is absorbing; the style and word choice are elegant and consuming. Well worth your time.