Audiobook – Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

>> Friday, March 23, 2012

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication Date: 2011
Read by: Rebecca Lowman
Source: Library

The Short Version:
New York in 1938 is the background to a story of a year that changed the lives of Katey Kontent, her roommate and the handsome banker they met on New Year’s Eve.

Why I Read It:
A friend mentioned that she’d read this and liked it a lot. When I looked it up on the library website it sounded interesting and when I saw that the audio edition was available I knew I’d get to it sooner if I got the audio edition.

The Book:
On New Year’s Eve 1937 Katey Kontent and her boardinghouse roommate Eve Ross meet Theodore (Tinker) Grey in a Jazz club. Their chance meeting turns quickly into a friendship and surprising circumstances that will change all of their lives.

Although the story begins as the story of three people it soon becomes Katey’s story. She begins the year living in a boardinghouse and working in the secretarial pool of a high powered legal firm. As the year goes on, she changes jobs, encounters a wide variety of people from all social classes who have varying levels of impact on her life and future. Through her friendship with Tinker Grey she meets people she might never have encountered. Some of them turn out to be positive encounters and others bring more trouble than she expects.

The city of New York, the era of the late 1930’s, the social class structure and the people who inhabit its layers as well as the lasting impact of both conscious choices and fate are all a part of the year this book chronicles.

My Thoughts:
I’m actually glad that I decided to get this in audio format. Rebecca Lowman tells Katey’s story (the book is written in first person narrative) with a voice that fits perfectly in my opinion with Katey’s cool reserved personality but at the same time is able to express her quick wit and sense of adventure. It was a book that I enjoyed listening to because I was able to visualize much of it in my head. For most of the time that visualization was in the form of a 1940’s era black and white movie which was obviously influenced by the cover photo of the book.

Speaking of the cover, I thought it was great. It perfectly sets the tone for the book.

The book begins with a prologue set in 1966 when an older Katey is at an exhibit of 1930’s photographs and is reminded of the events of 1938. This leads into her telling her story and an epilogue fills in a bit of ‘what happened later’. As soon as I was finished with the last track I went back to the beginning and listened to the prologue again to hear it a second time with full knowledge of what Katey knew when she was at that exhibit.

I enjoyed this book a lot. It’s always interesting to me when a man writes a book from the point of view of a female main character. Towles manages to pull it off for the most part, but there are times when Katey is a little too cool, too smart, too attractive and too vulnerable all at the same time. I’m not sure I liked Katey as a character but I liked hearing her story.

I was a little disappointed in the way that some characters were dropped out of the story. I would like to hear the rest of Eve’s story from her own perspective but perhaps that’s another book.

4 stars Rating 4/5

SoundBytes is a weekly roundup of audio book reviews hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.


Trish 3/23/2012 11:13 AM  

Where were you the other day when I was looking for audio recommendations?! ;) This sounds like one I'd be really interested in. I've heard the title thrown around a lot lately but had no idea what it was about.

I always find men writing from woman's perspective to be interesting as well. Though I guess that could be said for anyone writing from an "opposite" perspective?

Jen - Devourer of Books 3/23/2012 8:25 PM  

I really wish I'd done this one in audio. Towles didn't use any quotation marks for his dialogue and I found it so distracting that I never got into the story, and I think I'd have enjoyed it otherwise.

Aarti 3/23/2012 8:28 PM  

Oh, reading Jen's comment above makes me really want to look for this one in audio. I hate when authors try to be all clever with their writing by ignoring the grammatical norms. What do people have against quotation marks?!

I really like the title and cover of this book :-)

Heather @ Book Addiction 3/24/2012 5:28 AM  

You definitely liked this one more than I did. I loved the setting and I thought Toweles told this story beautifully, but I loved Eve and once she was dropped from the story I completely lost interest. I ended up resenting Katey since my favorite character wasn't around any longer. Sad.

Yvann 3/24/2012 2:46 PM  

I really enjoyed this in print but thought it would have been better in audio, which has been borne out by audio reviews so far. Interesting about Katey being too cool - I thought she was very well written, esp as written by a man - but I see your point and now am wondering...

Kailana 3/24/2012 8:44 PM  

I hope there is another book, too. I wanted more from Eve and some of the other characters.

SuziQoregon 4/10/2012 9:02 PM  

Trish: LOL - although I really enjoyed this one I'm not sure it's one I'd recommend easily. I can see where it could be one that as many folks would dislike as would like it. I agree - writing from the perspective of the opposite sex is tricky. Some authors pull it off better than others.

Jen: Oh that just makes me glad I opted for audio format for this one. I find the lack of quotation marks distracting.

Aarti: I agree - try to find the audio. Isn't the cover great? I loved it.

Heather: Eve definitely had a huge untold story but I'm sorry her absence made you dislike Katey. I'm not sure I liked any of the characters but Eve could be a book all on her own.

Yvann: another comment that makes me glad I opted for audio,

Kailana: The book absolutely leaves a lot untold doesn't it?

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment. I read and respond them here although not always right away. If you would prefer an email response let me know.

I do moderate comments on posts older than 14 days in order to control spam. I will approve your legitimate comments as soon as I can.

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