Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
Published by Viking Adult, an imprint of Penguin
Review copy provided by the publisher
The year is 1938, the place is New York City. Katey Kontent and her roommate Eve meet the rich, handsome Wall Street banker Tinker Grey one evening at a bar and Katey’s life suddenly changes course. This meeting sets off a chain of events which allows Katey access to some of the richest, most powerful people in New York, and also teaches her what it means to be in that upper social circles – how to deal with the jealousies and disloyalties that arise from being on top. While her relationship with Eve is never the same after the night they meet Tinker, Katey always keeps the two of them close to her heart, one day hoping that she and Tinker will become what she imagines they are meant to be.
Hands down, the best thing about Rules of Civility was the setting. Towles truly made 1930’s New York City come to life and I almost felt like I was right there with the characters. I fell in love with the era just while reading this book, the descriptions were that good.
When I first started reading this book, I liked the characters immediately. I especially loved how Katey, Eve, and Tinker were interacting and how that triangle of friendship was developing in the beginning of the novel. Unfortunately, at a certain point, Katey doesn’t spend much time with Eve and Tinker due to some circumstances that arise, and it was at that point that the book sort of went downhill for me. While I still liked the rest of the novel, I wasn’t as enthralled with it as I was hoping to be because, quite simply, I didn’t connect with Katey as I had hoped to. I was much more interested in Eve and Tinker, so when they went away, so did a lot of my interest in the story.
That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy and appreciate Rules of Civility overall, because I definitely did. I just wish the story would have gone in a different direction; or alternately, that I was able to form a stronger connection with Katey than I did. As I said, I loved the setting, the writing was fabulous, and I loved the relationships between the three main characters. Also, the plot redeemed itself toward the end. So while I didn’t love Rules of Civility, I really did appreciate it as a whole. And to be honest, many people have been over the moon with this one, so you may enjoy it more than I did.