Rules of Civility - In summary, I loved listening to this audiobook. Why? First of all, this book is a must for anyone who loves NYC. Secondly, almost every line refers to places and books and artists. There is a wonderful message. The author is a master of metaphor. Most every sentence implies more than the bare words. One example: Katey pronounces her surname Kon-TENT. Don't you see the difference between that and KON-tent? Think about it. The plot throws you a looper. The characters become real people .In the beginning I wondered if the different characters' actions were believable. Yes, they most certainly were. People are complicated. As with real people it takes a while to understand these characters. By the end of the novel each one is very special, each in their own way. And finally there is subtle, sophisticated humor. Absolutely excellent narration by Rebecca Lowman.

The title of this book refers to George Washington's penmanship assignment entitled "Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation". Are you curious for more? Look here: ( These 110 rules are listed at the end of the book, but I did not read them.... The title is very apt, for this book is all about to what purpose these rules should be followed. This book is all about the choices each of us makes in determining our fate, because we do make choices. Our fate is not predestined.


Oh, what I wouldn't do to go shopping at Bendel's. I can dream it still exists and is still the same?


Through Chapter 9:

Why have I not grabbed this book sooner?! It is not just good, it is really good. This book is for those people who demand books that are well written. Exciting plots are not enough. You know there are those books that are fun because the plot keeps you hanging on. Then there are those books which are fabulous because every line has you thinking, not about the plot, but about what is described, the place, the people, or how a character is responding, or how would I react in that situation. I am not saying the plot doesn't move forward, I am merely saying what happens isn't that necessary because the writing in itself keeps you thinking. I love the writing.

So what is it I love? I wrote below that the author superbly describes NYC. By that I do not mean what you see, but what you feel when you are there in that place. There is a static electricity in the air that is NYC. There is the honking of the cabs, there are the dark summer nights, there is the hot, sticky air in the summer. These things that I mention here are NOT described in this book, but this author has found all the other characteristics of this city that are so hard to capture.

I thought this was a nostalgia trip for me...... but it is more than that. Amor Towles describes places and events that I have never experienced, and I feel I am there too! An example, the Belmont race-tracks. Katey is there at 5 A.M. on a weekday. There you find the down and out, those who bet with their last dime, the wealthy, those who own horses and have a stake in the outcomes, the trainers... Each sit in their own places. Each is described with similes so that you see in which group each one belongs. How they hold their bodies, how they move, where they sit, how they are clothed, what they are eating and drinking - all of this you see. You feel the excitement. This is NOT done through boring descriptions. It is done through wonderful similes and metaphors so you understand and know immediately how a person almost feels because you recognize the visions conjured by the metaphors. This book is filled with the words"like" and "as if". It is filled with gorgeous metaphors that you snap up immediately. That is the author's trick..... But this is no easy trick. How has the author known how to capture those hunched shoulders? Where else is that shoulder held with that hunch so that readers will recognize it immediately? Then Towles puts it there for us in his metaphor.

Back to the race tracks. They are referred to as "Race-Arounds". What a wonderful expression. There are hunched backs, then straightened backs released as if on a spring when the horses surprise. Hands grip cups where "the absence of steam said the cup was filled with liquor". You smell the paddocks. And here, as elsewhere, what you see is compared to the lines of famous literature. It was like "circles of Dante's Inferno". Over and over again there are reference to artists and authors and photographers and books you have read. You remember these books or that painting and you know exactly what is expressed. This is a book for the literate, the well-educated. It is certainly for the well-read. It not only captures the jazz clubs of the 30s, but also art trends, the secretarial girls, literature and even butterfly collections! Eve is compared to the portraits of John Singer Sargent. Doesn't that draw a picture for you?

Another thought.... How has this author so well captured the essence of his female characters? Is there some women here on the sidelines?

So, I am terribly enjoying this book for how it us written. The events are rather insignificant for me; sometimes I do wonder would people make such decisions? Would it happen like that? But I have only read nine chapters. Maybe I will change my mind about that too. I am beginning to figure out who these people are: Tinker and Katey and Eve. We are talking 1938, NYC. Tinker is from the well-to-do. Eve and Katey are scratching the dirt, but Eve is never one to be under another's thumb, as she clearly states at the very beginning. One is from Brooklyn with Russian immigrant parents.That is Katey. The other is from the Midwest. What is intriguing is that I am sure there is more to understand about these three disparate figures. Who is the social climber? Katey is the erudite blue-collar worker, a stenographer at a law firm, but under the exterior who is she? How are they similar? How do they differ....... and this is a friendship of three! That never works. Who really loves who?

I like the narration by Rebecca Lowman. Her voice is a perfect balance to the struggles of the the three. There are struggles.


Well, I definitely love the way NYC is described. I lived there. It has a special feel to it. You go into that city and you feel it in the air. You feel that when you read this book. It makes me terribly nostalgic. There are so many details that perfectly capture the atmosphere of the place - the cabs, the sounds, Greenwich Village, the restaurants, the food. Each aspect is perfectly depicted with a simile that strikes home perfectly. Gosh, I am amazed. I was so worried when I started this book....