What a rich and sparkling view of New York City just before World War II! An absolute joy to listen to.
At the heart of this book are Washington’s Rules of Civility (actually created in 1595 but copied by Washington into his notebook), a list of common-sense manners which should be followed today. These rules were very much in style in Towles’ 1939 New York City.
The book begins with Katey touring a gallery with her husband in the 1960’s. She sees two photographs of the same man, taken at different times. She recognizes the man in the photographs and the story then flashes back to Manhattan in the late 1930’s.
The story then follows Katey and her fateful year in the city. She has re-invented herself from her background and works in the secretarial pool of a large law firm. She and her best friend Eve have a chance encounter with Tinker Grey, a handsome and rich young man who seems to be born of New York’s upper class.
Katey and Tinker appear to be in love with each other but fate has other plans, and Tinker and Eve begin a relationship. But this is not just a historical romance, it is a witty and brilliant story of a bygone era and the excitement of the greatest city in the world. Katey eventually sees Tinker for who he really is but meets a glittering assortment of people along the way.
”If we only fell in love with people who were perfect for us…then there wouldn’t be so much fuss about love in the first place.”
Both Tinker and Katey’s next job as the assistant to a successful literary editor provide her an entrance into the dazzling world of Manhattan’s elite. Towles’ observations of the very rich are so vivid that you will feel like you are sitting in the jazz club with Katey and her friends or riding in the convertible on the way to the Hamptons.
Katey and Tinker’s relationship is hindered by the weight of societal rules. But this is also a coming-of-age story and an engaging description of the melting pot that was New York City in 1939. It’s the world of nightclubs, parties, elegant restaurants and the looming threat of war, and of days gone by.
The audiobook narrator was lively and engaging and made the words come alive. Manhattan was literally a main character in this sparking debut novel. Highly recommend!!
”That’s how quickly New York City comes about. Like a weathervane or the head of a cobra, time tells which.”
About the Book:
From the number one New York Times best-selling author of The Lincoln Highway and A Gentleman in Moscow, a “sharply stylish” (Boston Globe) book about a young woman in post-Depression era New York who suddenly finds herself thrust into high society – now with over one million readers worldwide.
On the last night of 1937, 25-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society – where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve.
With its sparkling depiction of New York’s social strata, its intricate imagery and themes, and its immensely appealing characters, Rules of Civility won the hearts of readers and critics alike.