Rules of Civility

Rules of Civility

A Novel

Downloadable Audiobook - 2011
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A sophisticated and entertaining debut novel about an irresistible young woman with an uncommon sense of purpose.

Set in New York City in 1938, Rules of Civility tells the story of a watershed year in the life of an uncompromising twenty-five-year- old named Katey Kontent. Armed with little more than a formidable intellect, a bracing wit, and her own brand of cool nerve, Katey embarks on a journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool through the upper echelons of New York society in search of a brighter future.

The story opens on New Year's Eve in a Greenwich Village jazz bar, where Katey and her boardinghouse roommate Eve happen to meet Tinker Grey, a handsome banker with royal blue eyes and a ready smile. This chance encounter and its startling consequences cast Katey off her current course, but end up providing her unexpected access to the rarified offices of Conde Nast and a glittering new social circle. Befriended in turn by a shy, principled multimillionaire, an Upper East Side ne'er-do-well, and a single-minded widow who is ahead of her times, Katey has the chance to experience first hand the poise secured by wealth and station, but also the aspirations, envy, disloyalty, and desires that reside just below the surface. Even as she waits for circumstances to bring Tinker back into her orbit, she will learn how individual choices become the means by which life crystallizes loss.

Elegant and captivating, Rules of Civility turns a Jamesian eye on how spur of the moment decisions define life for decades to come. A love letter to a great American city at the end of the Depression, readers will quickly fall under its spell of crisp writing, sparkling atmosphere and breathtaking revelations, as Towles evokes the ghosts of Fitzgerald, Capote, and McCarthy.


From the Compact Disc edition.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Audio, 2011.
Edition: Unabridged.
ISBN: 9780307934536
Branch Call Number: eAudio overdrive
Characteristics: 1 online resource (10 audio files) : digital
audio file
Additional Contributors: Lowman, Rebecca
Overdrive, Inc

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e
ellenorndorf
Dec 04, 2018

Excellent

k
kingsly_1
Dec 03, 2018

Having read His A Gentleman in Moscow Which I found extremely engaging I am looking forward to Rules of Civility

SkokieStaff_Steven Sep 26, 2018

Amor Towles’ debut novel “Rules of Civility” is an accomplished work of art. Its prose is polished to a high gloss, its dialogue is snappy, its structure is elegant. The plot proceeds at a leisurely pace so that the reader can linger over Towles’ stylish writing. Even the design of the book is striking, right down to the font on the chapter headings. This attention to the book’s surface is appropriate for its story is concerned with surfaces. It follows a group of social strivers in 1938 Manhattan who infiltrate the glittering society of their time in large part because they know how to present themselves well. What the book lacks is the tragic sense that pervades works like “The Great Gatsby” or “The House of Mirth” to which Towles’ novel of manners is sometimes compared. It’s as if Towles fell so much in love with his own characters that he couldn’t bear for anything truly bad to happen to any one of them.

TechLibrarian Aug 29, 2018

This isn't the sort of book I usually read, but I took a chance on it since everyone seems to be loving A Gentleman in Moscow, and I was waiting for an available copy. I was really surprised to find myself quickly pulled into Rules of Civility. I liked the narrator's voice a lot, and that helped; I think reading the back and forth banter on the page wouldn't have been as fun as listening to her performance. As the plot moved along, sometimes a bit slowly, I came to really like the characters themselves. And, I really liked that the main character was a reader, so there were lots of references to famous books and authors peppered throughout. I don't think this book is for everyone but I'd recommend it as a read-alike to The Great Gatsby, or Bel Canto, as the writing is similarly lyrical, and it's also set in a similar time period.

m
maipenrai
Aug 16, 2018

Though not as good as "A Gentleman in Moscow" this novel has excellent character development. Amor Towles is very literate!! It was so nice to read a book that did not have incorrect grammar in sentence after sentence. Highly recommend this author. Kristi & Abby Tabby

s
StoriedLife
Jun 14, 2018

The book captures a certain feel for the period but it seems more like a Hollywood version and is weakened by an unbelievable narrator. “Kate” starts out mentioning that class differences don’t go unnoticed in the East, but she never finds herself in any difficulty negotiating the steep climb. The author puts too much clunky historical detail in her mouth, and her character comes off as too cool a customer by half. Also, some scenes would seem right at home in a Jacqueline Susann tale.

m
m0mmyl00
Jun 14, 2018

First of all, I love the title. Also, there really are 110 “rules of civility,” written down by George Washington as a guide to gentlemanly conduct. They are certainly appropriate for modern times as well as in the 1920s when Towles’s book is set and in Washington’s time. And the old fashioned language is charming, i.e., rule #4: “In the Presence of Others Sing not to yourself with a humming Noise, nor Drum with your Fingers or Feet.”
I did not fall in love with the book, though. It’s the story of various characters’ attempts to advance in society and fortune, and the paths their lives took when they seized or refused the opportunities that came their way. Ethical and considerate behavior might lead to good fortune...or it might not. It might indicate high standards of character...but not necessarily. It’s an interesting juxtaposition of good/bad and right/wrong, but I just didn’t care about any of the characters. Therefore it mattered not to me whether any of them got their just desserts.
But then, I loved A Gentleman in Moscow so much, so Rules of Civility likely suffered a great deal in comparison.

r
rogebc_0
Mar 17, 2018

I listened to this book over a period of weeks. It was interesting to read two books by this author. I found the voice in each book to be so different and to be a match with the period and place of each book in a unique way. Rules of Civility is in NYC during the 20s and on. The title refers to a list of rules written and followed by George Washington. They are in some ways the secret keys to joining privileged society. The story is of two young women, working in a typing pool, one from the midwest and a beauty, the other a local who aspires to being a journalist. The story starts with the journalist, late in her life and with her husband, seeing photos in a private exhibition. They are portraits in black and white and one is a man she remembers well - there are two photos of him, one in an expensive fur greatcoat and the other on a subway in rough working man's clothes. Her husband sees the progression from the working man to the wealthy, but she knows that the progression went the other way, and that the man's face on the subway shows a happiness he never felt in his riches. It is a complex story because there are shifting perspectives on who people are.

e
elizali
Feb 25, 2018

I read this after falling in love with Towles' prose style in "A Gentleman in Moscow." Reminiscent of Nabokov but just light enough to feel a bit like dessert as opposed to main course. Was interesting to see the crumbs in this book that led to writing a book about post-Trotsky Russia. I am absolutely enamored with Towles' style and will continue to read his work. High recommend.

ArapahoeAnnaL Feb 04, 2018

In depression era New York City (1938) some live in abject poverty and others still revel in Jazz Age luxuries. The characters here are bright, quick, optimistic, stylish. By the end the reader may question which character's life is lived by "The Rules of Civility."

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