Rules of Civility

Towles, Amor

  12 Reviews

From its opening in a Greenwich Village jazz bar on New Year's Eve 1937, to a photo exhibition of the Museum of Modern Art in 1966, this is a story of New York: chance encounters, dazzling possibilities and a society in transition. At its heart is the ambitious and upwardly mobile Katy Kontent, daughter of Russian immigrants and ready for all that the city offers.

With links to George Washington's 'Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation', it is a witty and stylish observation of New York society, the randomness of chance and the off-hand decisions that shape our lives.

Comments from Groups

We all thoroughly enjoyed this book. "Elegant and captivating." We liked Katey Kontent and enjoyed her journey to the "upper echelons of New York Society". A clever and intelligently written book. Wellington 041

Very interesting book. Many found the characters unlikeable but on the whole the atmosphere of inner New York and its young people on the make was fascinating; characters full of surprises. We felt the writing was obviously male despite the feminine protagonist. Christchurch 203

This was an amazingly interesting book. Everyone really enjoyed the descriptions of the era - the "artsy" living and Katey's ability to move from one milieu to the other. The writing style was compelling - the characterisations were very easy to understand and some, like Dickie, the epitome of a gentleman. Highly recommended if you like the thirties. Napier 023

Superb read, enjoyed by all of our group. Feels like an American classic. Brilliant and satisfying especially as it is a first novel. Auckland 027



We all loved this book and its portrayal of New York in the 30s. His witty writing style makes you read every sentence in case you miss something. His characters are well fleshed out, you either love or dislike them. We agreed that it was a well-written story for Towles' 1st book. Having said that, we agreed that 'Gentleman in Moscow' was a winner.
Most enjoyed, some VERY much. Some found it a bit pointless. Generally a good read.
Most loved the elegant, and often humorous writing. Mostly the story of Katy, a witty and talented young woman with a great intellect, on her journey in search of a better future. Also loved reading the 'Rules of Civility' at the back of the book.
AUCK 122
Some found it a little slow, but generally enjoyed this read.
We love his witty and sarcastic turn of phrase, and we enjoyed this book immensely. Very reminiscent of the 1930s.
CHCH 289
Well-written. Some found it hard to grasp an overall 'plot'. The discussion found hidden depths we would have missed otherwise.
WELL 220
Thank you - most of the group loved this book!
AUCK 135
We deemed this worthy of a re-read. Unpredictable plot, wonderful writing.
The book was enhanced by our discussion, as it was a difficult read.
HAST 014
We enjoyed the 1920s style of the book, but felt the story lacked 'punch'. It meandered and didn't really go anywhere.
There was a mixed response to this book. We had all enjoyed A Gentleman in Moscow by the same author but found that this book did not have as much depth, nor were the characters as well developed. Nevertheless, the book generated an interesting discussion about aspirations, class, chance, and fate. Many of Towle's exquisite turns of phrase were a delight.
CHCH 155
A most enjoyable book. A great depth of characters that held the interest and showed the foibles of the 30s. Well-written and the photos added to the era they lived in.