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  • Location: Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow

Why a Booktrail?

1922: Being stuck in a nice hotel might not sound like a problem but house arrest surely does…

  • ISBN: 978-0091944247
  • Genre: Fiction

What you need to know before your trail

On 21 June 1922 Count Alexander Rostov – recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew, member of the Jockey Club, Master of the Hunt – is escorted out of the Kremlin, across Red Square and through the elegant revolving doors of the Hotel Metropol.

But instead of being taken to his usual suite, he is led to an attic room with a window the size of a chessboard. Deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the Count has been sentenced to house arrest indefinitely.

While Russia undergoes decades of tumultuous upheaval, the Count, stripped of the trappings that defined his life, is forced to question what makes us who we are. And with the assistance of a glamorous actress, a cantankerous chef and a very serious child, Rostov unexpectedly discovers a new understanding of both pleasure and purpose.

Travel Guide


Moscow is at the centre of turmoil and upheaval following the Russian Revolution. A revolution which is has been violent and has caused ripples of anger and resentment across the world. This has led to a city living on the edge, nervous of its own shadow and worried about its future.

Men like Alexander Rostov are in danger. He has been accused of writing a counter-revolutionary poem and so is  now in front of the Emergency Committee of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs. Alexander does not want to be a part of Moscow now, he sees a great country and does not like what he sees. He has status however and so has friends in hight places who are willing and able to protect him. But the facade of Russia is crumbling.

Hotel Metropol

Living in a posh suite, he is later forced to live with the ghosts in the attic. Small cramped and not befitting his situation, he keeps his faith and refuses to be bowed by his falling status and his despair at his situation and that of his country.

Events taking place in Russia and beyond during Rostov’s years of confinement, 1922 -1954, is glimpsed through the eyes of the staff and visitors to the hotel.

The staff become his friends and family. The posh restaurant Boyarsky, where he eats becomes his community and view on the world. The people he meets here will change his life for ever.

“When you exile a man into his own country, there is no beginning anew. For the exile at home – whether he be send to Siberia or subject to the minus Six – the love for his country will not become vague or shrouded by the mists of time.”

Streetview Maps

A) Moscow - Red Square
B) Moscow - Hotel Metropole

Booktrailer Review

Susan: @thebooktrailer

Although I struggled to get into this novel, it was worth persevering with. To be confined in one space with a character but to see the world beyond it through the eyes of all those who pass through the hotel was a unique way of building up a picture of history and fate.

It’s a very unique novel in both style and substance but one I found myself getting more into the more than I read. There was a lot of inner reflection and thoughts which did slow the novel in places but then I guess if it’s about a man confined to a hotel then the plot is never going to be based on action but rather the interactions of those inside it.

The main thrust of the novel is about what Count Rostov makes of his life. There’s a lot of philosophical thoughts and it could get a bit weighty in places but on the whole built a picture which as it started to emerge was fascinating and revealing about a man and his country at large. Historical and literary references sprinkled throughout added more flavour still.

The male friendships developed in this novel and those between the hotel staff and the count were particularly interesting to read. Russia is a country where freedom at that time was not a given and being trapped whether in your country or inside a hotel creates a realistic sense of claustrophobia and isolation in every sense of the word.

Overall?  The Count is a fascinating man and this is a book which really delved into the Bolshevik times and the seemingly inconsequential detail (the trouble with wine labels for example) which really shows the larger picture. Despite the novel being set in one confined space, it’s a transporting one as well as the reader travels, explores and reflects on country in crisis

Booktrail Boarding Pass Information:  A Gentleman in Moscow

Author/Guide: Amor Towles  Destination: Moscow  Departure Time:  1922 onwards

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