Rules of Civility: A Tantalizing Ride
Packed with the glamour of The Great Gatsby and mystery of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the Rules of Civility delivers a refreshing coming-of-age story of Katey Kontent. Set in New York in 1938, an alluring time period rarely touched by authors, Amor Towles takes readers on a fast paced ride through the twenty-something lives of Katey, her best friend Eve and their unlikely friend, Tinker.
What’s beautiful about this story is how Towles uses witty one-liners to describe and unfold life’s little mysteries. He uses Katey as an observer of the nuances of a class-based society. Even though the story is set nearly 70 years ago, her statements about relationships, fashion, working women, and high society ring true today. I often found myself chuckling at the commentary because I find myself in similar predicaments, or self-debating the same dilemma.
The fast-paced writing in this novel mimics the tantalizing life of Katey and her crew. Towles has a cinematic style to his writing. Scenes are often descriptive until the defining moment, and then dropped in favor of the next one a few days later. At first this was frustrating, but as the end neared, it was clear that Towles purposefully left conclusions to the reader. Because the story is so realistic and easy to identify with, this allows the reader to project and elaborate on the scenes’ conclusions… especially the romantic ones. I believe this only enhances the story, and leaves the reader wanting more!
Regretfully, I cannot turn the clock back to 1938 to drink cocktails with Katey and the girls, dress up for an adventure with Eve, or distantly pine over Tinker, but with the vivid writing of Towles I was transported back to an era of romance, mystery, and the beguiling life of Katey Kontent. Enjoy the ride!