Narrator: Rebecca Lowman
Rating: 8 out of 10
Challenges: 2012 Audio Book Challenge
Synopsis (from Amazon): Set during the hazy, enchanting, and martini-filled world of New York City circa 1938, Rules of Civility follows three friends–Katey, Eve, and Tinker–from their chance meeting at a jazz club on New Year’s Eve through a year of enlightening and occasionally tragic adventures. Tinker orbits in the world of the wealthy; Katey and Eve stretch their few dollars out each evening on the town. While all three are complex characters, Katey is the story’s shining star. She is a fully realized heroine, unique in her strong sense of self amidst her life’s continual fluctuations. Towles’ writing also paints an inviting picture of New York City, without forgetting its sharp edges.
Overall Impression: Rules of Civility is a book to get lost in. Towles decadent descriptions of life in 1938 reeled me in and I found myself just falling into the story. Towles has an incredible gift for writing beautiful language, and Rebecca Lowman’s soft, elegant narration did it justice in a way that made me wonder if I would have missed it had I read it in book form. It was all just so lush and thick and delicious. This was, by far, my favorite part of the book — seeing how Towles crafted his sentences and paragraphs. Gorgeous.
The plot got off to a somewhat rocky start for me (it felt a little contrived), but then it sort of flattened out into a more even, realistic story. It’s truly a story of a woman’s independence and coming of age, a little later in life than most. I found myself loving the subplots more than the main triangle of friends — particularly Katey and Wallace and Katey and Anne. These two stories felt particularly timeless — they could have happened any time, but I was lucky enough to read about them in 1938.
This could have been a knock-it-out-of-the-park stellar book if it was not for one thing — I have a hard time when men write female characters. Towles did an admirable job, but there were still parts that didn’t feel distinctly feminine, though, of course, I couldn’t put my finger precisely on it. Maybe it’s that Katey didn’t quite have the emotions that would be spot on for pretty much all women — for the most part, I find that we care about certain things more. Other than this, though, it was an excellent book.
Positives: Towles! Write more beautiful things! Please! I will read them!
Negatives: Katey was missing…something. I can’t put my finger on it, though.
Narration: Rebecca Lowman was wonderful — a little timid in some places, but overall she did an excellent job.
Other books I’ve read by Amor Towles: none
Other books I’ve listened to narrated by Rebecca Lowman: Vaclav and Lena (review)
Other blogger opinions:
books i done read: “We have a heap of Theme and Nuance in this corner, and then a pile of Genuinely Enjoyable Read over there. And underneath the diving board I believe I spied some Humor.”
Devourer of Books: “Perhaps the real problem for Rules of Civility was simply that it fell victim to my as-yet undiagnosed general dissatisfaction with historical fiction based in America, despite my love for American history.”
Reading with Tea: “Well worth the read. Get your hands on a copy if you can, and even better if it’s in audio!”