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Islington Branch Book Club - Past Titles: "A Gentleman in Moscow" by Amor Towles

Take a look through previous titles we've discussed at our Islington Branch Book Club

"A Gentleman in Moscow" by Amor Towles

  1. Character Development: Analyze the character of Count Alexander Rostov. How does he evolve over the course of the novel, both emotionally and intellectually? What challenges does he face, and how does he adapt to his circumstances?

  2. Themes of Adaptation and Resilience: The novel explores themes of adaptation and resilience in the face of adversity. How does Count Rostov adapt to his confinement in the Metropol Hotel, and how does he find purpose and fulfillment within the confines of his new life?

  3. Social Commentary: Discuss the social and political commentary in the novel, particularly in relation to the changing landscape of Russia during the early 20th century. How does the author use the character of Count Rostov to reflect on broader societal changes and historical events?

  4. Friendship and Connection: Count Rostov forms meaningful relationships with various characters throughout the novel, including hotel staff, guests, and a young girl named Nina. How do these relationships shape his experience of isolation, and what do they reveal about the importance of human connection?

  5. The Role of the Hotel: The Metropol Hotel serves as a central setting in the novel. How does the hotel environment contribute to the story's atmosphere and themes? What significance does the hotel hold for Count Rostov and the other characters?

  6. Class and Privilege: The novel explores themes of class and privilege, particularly in relation to Count Rostov's aristocratic background. How does his privileged upbringing influence his interactions with others, and how does he navigate his changing social status during his time in the hotel?

  7. Literary Style: Discuss the author's use of language and literary devices in the novel. How does Towles create a sense of time and place through his descriptive prose? What impact does the narrative style have on the reader's experience of the story?

  8. Historical Context: "A Gentleman in Moscow" is set against the backdrop of significant historical events, including the Russian Revolution and the rise of the Soviet Union. How does the novel depict these historical events, and how do they shape the characters' lives and choices?

  9. Humor and Wit: The novel is known for its humor and wit, particularly in Count Rostov's observations and interactions. Discuss the role of humor in the novel and how it contributes to the overall tone and mood of the story.

  10. Freedom and Imprisonment: Explore the themes of freedom and imprisonment in the novel, both literal and metaphorical. How does Count Rostov find freedom within the confines of his confinement, and what does his experience teach us about the nature of freedom?

  11. Legacy and Memory: The novel concludes with a reflection on Count Rostov's legacy and the impact he has had on those around him. How does the novel explore themes of memory, legacy, and the passage of time?

  12. Reader's Response: Reflect on your personal response to the novel. What aspects of the story resonated with you the most, and why? How did the novel challenge or expand your understanding of historical fiction and the human experience?

Early Life and Education: Amor Towles was born and raised in the Boston area of Massachusetts, United States. He developed a passion for literature and storytelling from a young age, which would later influence his career as a writer.

He attended Yale College, where he studied English literature and graduated in 1985. Towles then went on to earn a Master of Arts degree in English from Stanford University.

Career in Finance: After completing his education, Amor Towles pursued a career in finance, particularly in the field of investment management. He worked for over 20 years as an investment professional in various capacities, including as a director of research at an investment firm.

Towles' background in finance provided him with insights into human behavior, society, and culture, which would later inform his writing.

Literary Career: Amor Towles made his literary debut with the publication of his novel "Rules of Civility" in 2011. The novel, set in New York City in the late 1930s, follows the story of a young woman named Katey Kontent as she navigates the social scene of Manhattan's elite.

"Rules of Civility" received critical acclaim for its elegant prose, vivid setting, and memorable characters. The novel became a bestseller and established Towles as a talented new voice in contemporary literature.

Towles followed up the success of his debut novel with the publication of "A Gentleman in Moscow" in 2016. The novel, set in 1920s Russia, follows the life of Count Alexander Rostov, who is placed under house arrest in the Metropol Hotel in Moscow during the Russian Revolution. "A Gentleman in Moscow" also received widespread praise from critics and readers alike, further solidifying Towles' reputation as a masterful storyteller.

Personal Life: Amor Towles currently resides in New York City with his wife and two children. In addition to his writing career, he is actively involved in philanthropic endeavors and literary events.

Towles' novels are characterized by their rich historical detail, elegant prose, and exploration of human nature and society. He has become known for his ability to transport readers to different time periods and settings, weaving together intricate narratives that resonate with readers around the world.


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