Rules of Civility was Cinematic but Uninspiring

BlogHer Review

With two of my favorite ladies (Billie and Ella) providing some appropriate background music, I pretended my strawberry lemonade was spiked with gin and stepped into 1938 Manhattan through Amor Towles' novel Rules of Civility. As a career woman who has put in long hard hours to prove myself in the world, I was interested in reading the story of Katey Kontent, who seeks to make her mark on society in an era with far fewer opportunities for women.

While some people may have found the novel a bit of a name dropper, I loved how the mentions of stars like Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis or Cary Grant made me feel like I was transported into their timeline. It was great to imagine what it might have been like to be part of a company like the up and coming Conde Nast.

But while the writing was wonderful and the nostalgia thrilling, the characters in Rules of Civility were less than memorable. I found most of them to be rather pretentious, and the heroine Katey was not likeable as I had hoped. The only one who really stood out was the lovely Wallace Wolcott whose role as the only person looking out for others was far too short.

Some might think me prudish, but I’ve lived the lifestyle of partying with the rich and famous for a couple of years, and know it’s nowhere near as satisfying or glamorous as it’s made out to be. The stories of crashing parties, drinking too many gin and tonics and the conniving methods of starting a gossip magazine were no longer my cup of tea.

Towles is a fantastic writer, I loved how visually descriptive each and every chapter was. In the end, I can say I finished the novel not unsatisfied, but with the same feeling I’m left with after watching a visually stunning film that has an unfortunately uninspiring story.


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