On 21 June 1922 Count Alexander Rostov – recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew, member of the Jockey Club, Master of the Hunt – is escorted out of the Kremlin, across Red Square and through the elegant revolving doors of the Hotel Metropol.
But instead of being taken to his usual suite, he is led to an attic room with a window the size of a chessboard. Deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the Count has been sentenced to house arrest indefinitely.
While Russia undergoes decades of tumultuous upheaval, the Count, stripped of the trappings that defined his life, is forced to question what makes us who we are. And with the assistance of a glamorous actress, a cantankerous chef and a very serious child, Rostov unexpectedly discovers a new understanding of both pleasure and purpose.
About the author
Amor Towles was born and raised in the Boston area. He graduated from Yale University and received an MA in English from Stanford University. An investment professional for over twenty years, he now devotes himself full time to writing. Towles lives in Manhattan with his wife and two children.
Count Alexander Rostov, a fine-mannered, big-hearted dandy, is imprisoned for life in Moscow’s finest hotel while the rest of Stalinist Russia deteriorates around him, unseen. As he wonders how he might find his purpose in life, his purpose seems to present itself in a series of adventures big and small, from the raising of a child, to the protection of friends, to the maintenance of the hotel’s wine selection. The result is something improbable but also sharp and witty, a near fairy-tale set in the darkest of times.
Set within the volatile context of Soviet Russia in the 1920s and 30s, Towles has written a charming novel, both comic and thoughtful. Centered on Count Alexander Rostov, sentenced to a life of house arrest in Moscow’s most elegant hotel, the novel is imaginative, cleverly crafted and peopled with an engaging cast of unforgettable characters.
The book was selected as book of the year by the National Public Radio, The Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune. It utilizes the setting ot the Metropol Hotel in Moscow and the character of an exiled aristocrat to examine historical events in twentieth century Russia.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, an aristocrat is placed under house arrest in an attic in Moscow’s Metropol Hotel for writing a controversial poem. But Count Rostov is a survivor, and discovers that his reduced circumstances serve as a gateway into a larger emotional world as his captivity reaches into the 1950s.