⏲ Read time: 3-5 minutes
How does a man have a world of experience if he’s been under house arrest for most of his life?
In A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov was placed under house arrest for being an “unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal” and has spent the majority of his life confined to the walls of the Metropol, one of Russia’s most picturesque hotels….
Before we go on, I think I need to make a confession: I read 462 pages of this story and I have no idea what the hell I read.
The thing is, I really wanted to love this story. I had read so many blog posts naming this as one of the best reads of the year, best reads for traveling, best reads period. But the more I read it, the more I realized that I was in way over my head.
Towles has such a beautiful sense of illustration and painting a vidid picture with his writing, but the problem is, it’s beyond my attention span. It’s a beautiful story about nothing in particular, but without any content, it was difficult to retain it.
There was one quote that actually stuck out to me though (for when I could pay attention and not catch the back of my eyelids!). While talking about his ‘daughter’ Sofia leaving for school in Paris, the Count has a realization. Even though he’s spent a majority of his life in the Metropol, he realized that life cannot be sustainable in its four walls for a blossoming woman like Sofia. The Count says ‘one does not fulfill one’s potential by listening to Scheherazde in a glided hall, or by reading the Odyssey in one’s den. One does so by setting forth into the vast unknown – just like Marco Polo when he traveled to China, or Columbus when he traveled to America’.
For me, as becoming someone who often wants to step out of their comfort zone often and grow, this really resonated with me. Unfortunately, it was about the only thing that stuck with me.
Rating: 2 out of 5