It’s been eons since I’ve written about books here. It’s not that I haven’t been reading, it’s just been a while since I’ve come across anything I’ve been really excited about. Then, last week I finally picked up a book I couldn’t put down.
I’d been looking forward to reading The Rules of Civility for a while, purely based on the cover. I don’t even think I read the synopsis before I bought it. Amor Towes, you had me at deco font.
The novel is set in New York City in the late 1930’s, and it’s no secret I am fascinated with all things interbellum. If you’re like me, and romanticize this era, you’re really going to love this one. Every conversation in this book seems to take place over a cocktail and cigarette, in jazz clubs, supper clubs and automats. If time travel were possible, this is where I’d take my vacations.
The story is narrated by Katey – a young, independent and ambitious native New Yorker. Despite growing up in a poor, immigrant household, she uses her charm and wit to build her career, while becoming a part of Manhattan’s upper crust social scene.
Sometimes the narrative had the quiet isolation of an Edward Hopper painting, while other moments had the repartee of a pre-war comedy .The plot isn’t deep and there are no mind blowing plot twists. Instead, it was heavy on observation, complicated relationships, and the cultural aura of pre-WWII Manhattan.
If you have some free time this summer, I recommend picking up this book. Then, pour yourself a gin and tonic, get comfortable, and enjoy what (at the risk of sounding cliché) I can only describe as a literary time machine.