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Archive for March, 2017|Monthly archive page

A Gentleman in Moscow

In My Book Club Books on March 30, 2017 at 3:49 pm

The Literary Epicurean Book Club Selection

March 29, 2017

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 by Amor Towles

Book Description (Courtesy of Goodreads):

A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

My Thoughts:

This book is destined to be one of those books that I take out once a year to re-read and savor for the quality of writing, the truly unique characters, and the finely told story of the Count. I am in awe of Mr. Towles’ writing style. I had to stop time and again to reread sentences and paragraphs, each vividly descriptive in the most unique way. I adored the main character and fully appreciated all the other characters sprinkled throughout the book. And the plot was just so darn clever and well thought out, incredibly engaging and completely unpredictable. All 462 pages went by in a blur. It was just that good!

Book Club Discussion:

I think we all weren’t too sure about this book when it was first suggested. After all, how interesting a story can you tell when the whole thing takes place in a hotel? Yet, when all was said and done, we all agreed this was just the best book, and we couldn’t stop raving about! It was one of those rare books that hit the trifecta of literary elements – outstanding writing, outstanding characters, and outstanding plot. It is our hope that Masterpiece Theater grab the rights to this book immediately and produce the quality series it so richly deserves. But I digress…

This book was full of memorable and unique characters, but the Count (The Gentleman in Moscow himself) is just the most amazing of them all. He was just so darn witty and charming that we all liked him right from the beginning. He had an interesting personality and an enviable attitude toward life, very nicely summed up in this quote: “… a man must master his circumstances or otherwise be mastered by them…”. He proceeded, as one member said, to make a nice lemonade of his life from the lemons he was given. Being sentenced to a life of confinement far from the comfort and wealth of his former life could definitely be defined as lemons. Yet, he wasn’t vindictive or distraught, he just adapted as best he could and got on with his life. He had so many layers, and they just kept unfolding as the story progressed. Those layers were showcased in the many interactions and relationships with other key characters. We learned early of his fine taste in wine and discriminating palate, which made for some interesting high points in the plot. The part involving the making and eating of the bouillabaisse, as well as all the parts that involved wine recommendations were particularly memorable.

The plot was very clever and well thought out. So many intriguing plot twists and turns.We appreciated the level of research that went into the planning of this book and how the different eras of the evolving Russian government were depicted through events happening at the hotel. The scene with Kruschev and the other dignitaries, how they came to be at the hotel, and how the seating at the table all played out was especially telling and memorable. Not everything was spelled out ( who was that willowy woman he met at the end?) and some times the plot was moved along by such phrases as “…ten years later…”. Nonetheless, it all made sense and those little discrepancies didn’t bother us at all.

Then there was the writing – so rich and delectable. We all kept sharing our favorite quotes and savored every word. He had the most incredible descriptions that just wowed us on practically every page.  Every so often, he added footnotes to the text which, as one member said, gave us the inside scoop so that we could better understand.

Our Book Club Rating: 5 STARS

Book Club Menu

White Russian

Small Plates

Russian Blini with Salmon, Sour Cream, and Chives

Zucchini Spread

Russian Dressing Dip with Crudite

Russian Cheese Spread

Olivier Salad

Dessert

Russian Cream

Various Russian Chocolates

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets

In Middle Grade Book Review, Poetry on March 23, 2017 at 7:09 pm

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By Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth

Poetry/©2017/Recommended for Middle Grade

Publisher’s Info (Courtesy of Goodreads):

Out of gratitude for the poet’s art form, Newbery Award winning author and poet Kwame Alexander, along with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth, present original poems that pay homage to twenty famed poets who have made the authors’ hearts sing and their minds wonder.

My Thoughts:

What a brilliant idea to write new poems in the style of master poets! The original poets would be so proud. Each poem gets a two-page spread with the most breath-taking illustrations. The book also includes a mini-biography for each of the honored poets. After reading each, I just had to go back to re-read the poem written in his/her honor. Each does, indeed, capture the heart and soul of the original poet. All in all, a fabulous collection of poetry that will entertain and inspire.