Young Manhattan Life in Rules of Civility

BlogHer Review

Walking the streets of Manhattan, the old, elegant architecture and the occasional cobblestone streets often invoke a feeling of curiosity as you dodge slow-moving tourists and speeding cabs.  Who has taken these very same steps before me?  Who has walked in my shoes, seeking to remain anonymous during the daily grind, but one who can turn heads on an evening out on the town?  Who else has wanted to leave their mark on this city?  In Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, these daydreams are answered and confirmed, transporting readers back some 80 odd years, exploring Manhattan alongside Katey Kontent in the years between the debilitating stock market crash and uprising of World War II.

In reading such a testimonial, you may be inclined to let you mind wander towards a lifestyle of constant frugality and sacrifice.  On quite another note, this book immerses the reader into swanky, whimsical nights on the town, even if this rich lifestyle is only an illusion.  On the cusp of welcoming in 1938, while attempting to stretch $3 into an evening of drinks, Katey and her friend Eve, a strong-willed, Midwestern girl,  unexpectedly befriend Tinker, a dashing, well-dressed man who will unknowingly change the course of their lives forever.

As the pages unfold along the path of Katey’s young Manhattan life, her carefree days come to a screeching halt one fateful rainy evening.  From that point, we witness Katey’s unlikely climb through the impossible New York social ladder and daring career decisions that land her as an integral part of an emerging magazine.  Katey’s path is not one that is necessarily uncommon for any woman in New York today, but it is surprising and refreshing to see old New York alongside such a strong female personality -- one refusing to remain in the expansive secretarial pool or longing to become the wife of any one of New York elites -- no matter how badly she may have wished for the latter. 

Rules of Civility is an energetic, attention-grabbing read which quickly draws you alongside Katey, exploring and leaving her mark on the sidewalks of New York City.

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