Facilitated by Ohio State University Russian history scholar Nicholas Breyfogle, this month’s book club will feature the best-selling novel, A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. The author immerses the reader in an elegantly drawn era with the unforgettable story of Count Alexander Rostov.
The novel begins in 1922 when the 33-year old Count is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, condemned for writing a poem, and is sentenced to house arrest at the Metropol, a grand hotel across from the Kremlin. A sophisticated man of wit and charm, Rostov must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. A glittering cast of characters and one beautifully rendered scene after another cast a spell as the Count’s reduced circumstances provide him entry to a much larger world of emotional discovery.
Towles masterfully guides readers across a century of Russian history, from the Bolshevik uprising to the dawn of the nuclear age under Krushchev. With language and drama reminiscent of Tolstoy, A Gentleman in Moscow is a delightful and entertaining tale of one man’s determination to maintain his dignity and passion for life, even after being stripped of his title, belongings, and freedom.
Professor Breyfogle is the author of Heretics and Colonizers: Forging Russia’s Empire in the South Caucasus, which was awarded the Ohio Academy of History Book Award for 2006. He is also co-editor of Peopling the Russian Periphery: Borderland Colonization in Eurasian History, and the co-editor of the on-line magazine Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective.