Very Content with Kate Kontent in Rules of Civility
New Year's Eve, the last night of 1937… “We started the evening with a plan of stretching three dollars as far as it could go. We weren’t going to bother ourselves with boys”.
Amor Towles brings us in to Rules of Civility at the end. 1966. A photography exhibit sets the scene and introduces us to Kate Kontent who takes us back to that New Year's Eve in 1937 when she was a sassy gal from Brooklyn sharing boarding house rooms and working in Manhattan.
Rich in description of scene and character from the outset, I quickly settled in knowing this was my kind of book. I was ready to devote an entire weekend to it.
Literary references abound and we are whisked from country to city, mansions to flop houses, greasy spoons to fine dining rooms. Mr. Towles paints exquisite pictures with his words.
We follow Kate through to the last night of 1940, three years that change her life and the lives of those around her. We are introduced to characters who have nothing but will take from others to get what they need, characters who have everything but walk away from it all to give back. At the center of it all our protagonist stays true to herself as she straddles both worlds. Her journey is not easy but I loved her self-awareness, grit and, of course, the fact that she surrounds herself with books.
I rate books not by stars or numbers, but by how I read them. There are the “don’t put it down -- I’m not getting anything done around here” “bag of chips” books, the ones that I gobble up page after page never stopping to breathe. The others are the “I am loving this, I don’t want it to end” “dark chocolate” books, which I read slowly, letting the words melt in my mouth, I savour one small square at a time so I don’t run out.
Rules of Civility is pure dark chocolate. I made it last almost two weeks.
It’s a perfect read to curl up with this fall. On the first cool night, when you suddenly notice that it’s already dark out but it’s still early, pull on some cozy socks, light a candle for ambiance, turn on the reading lamp and curl up in your favourite chair with Rules of Civility. You won’t regret it. (Don't forget the dark chocolate and maybe a glass of robust red wine!)