"The Rules of Civility", by Amor Towles

We will be discussing Amor Towles' "The Rules of Civility".  The Formal Discussion will begin at 7:30.  Before/during we also have Dinner and Informal Chat!

Giuliana will do the book notes/author bio.

Note that we are meeting on the 2nd Monday this month, because of the holiday.


The New York Times bestselling novel that "enchants on first reading and only improves on the second" (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

This sophisticated and entertaining first novel presents the story of a young woman whose life is on the brink of transformation. On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-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.

(Amazon Editorial Review)

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  • Mona F.

    I'm really sorry that I can't make it tonight. I loved the book and how cinematic it was. Did anyone else go back to the first chapter after finishing the book? See you next month!

    1 · September 9, 2013

    • Mark L.

      It certainly seems to apply most to Tinker -- and maybe to Eve -- but they both cast themselves into Outer Darkness, and gladly, in defiance of the parable. Maybe Towles is trying to make us think more about why Walker Evan's exhibition of the subway riders was named, "Many are Called." I too was completely unsatisfied with everything Tinker until the very end, when he succeeded in surprising me. I love surprises!

      September 11, 2013

    • Mark L.

      Just thinking a little more about Tinker -- and Eve -- maybe they ARE the ones who are Chosen. In the end, they don't compromise. They reject Mammon. ... I think, at least, the book addresses the paradoxical question of what constitutes a "good" life, and wisely leaves it as an open question. Kate is a good heroine because she can see both sides.

      September 13, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    On Monday we all seemed to agree that the character of Kate is talented, bright, and deserving of whatever success she might find. I think it might be worth considering, though, to what ends Kate directs her talents. After all, she works for what appears to be a high-end gossip rag. With her doormen feature, her career-making pitch, she sought to expose the secrets of the very class of people she seemed intent on cozying up to (and eventually married into). It's hard to put an admirable spin on that. And that's fine. I say this only to suggest a different interpretation of her character.

    September 11, 2013

    • Mark L.

      Kate's finest moment for me is when she returns to work after the worst day of her year and finds the Red Cross Chair waiting at her desk. And sits right down and goes to work even harder. But she has some hard edges -- she shuns her fast-typing co-worker, and came close to letting her get fired over that forgotten portfolio; bumps a rival into the pond...

      September 11, 2013

  • Mark L.

    I disliked it somewhat on first read but came to admire it. Particularly liked the author's kind of epigrams. Felt it was very good on the nature of NYC. Liked Kate even though I didn't quite understand who she was. Definitely one of those books that only the JCBC would have gotten me to read and I'm glad I did!

    1 · September 10, 2013

  • Giuliana L.

    Thanks everyone for a good discussion. It's always interesting to talk about what works and in some cases what doesn't work in the books we read. I had a rather rosy view of the book but I'm glad we also talked about some of its weaknesses.

    As I mentioned, Amor Towles' author website is a great resource for further info about Rules of Civility: http://amortowles.com/

    If anyone reads the novella "Eve in Hollywood," let me know what you think!

    1 · September 9, 2013

  • Machelle

    I'm not going to be able to make it back in time to attend tonight. I really liked the book and so go back to retread the first chapter. The first chapter was my favorite in the entire book. Mark- thanks for the info on the novella. I'm going to read it since I hate when things don't really have an ending.

    1 · September 9, 2013

  • Mark L.

    Here are a couple of good links that Giuliana found for us:

    "If people want to find out about what happens to Eve (Katey Kontent's boarding house roommate who goes off to Hollywood) they can read Amor Towles novella Eve in Hollywood"...


    Eve's defining character quote: ""I'm willing to be under anything ... as long as it isn't somebody's thumb."

    1 · September 9, 2013

  • Giuliana L.

    Just started a freelance gig with an agency…really hoping I can get out in time tomorrow evening. Mark & Tracy, I will send my author notes to you just in case. :)

    September 8, 2013

    • Mark L.

      OK, thanks Giuliana! Hope you can make it though!

      September 8, 2013

  • Mark L.

    Here's a good review to read after you've finished -- no spoilers, just an nice recap. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/14/books/review/rules-of-civility-by-amor-towles-book-review.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    1 · August 27, 2013

  • Mona F.

    Just passed the half way mark and don't want to finish. I'm enjoying it immensely.

    3 · August 24, 2013

  • Aileen

    Just finished this book and absolutely loved it.

    2 · August 21, 2013

    • Mark L.

      "On the morning of Friday, July 1st, I had a low-paying job at a waning publisher... On Friday, July 8th, I had one foot in the door of Conde Nast and the other in the door of the Knickerbocker Club.... That's how quickly New York City comes about -- like a weather vane -- or the head of a cobra. Time tells which."

      1 · August 24, 2013

  • jennifer_b.

    Hi. Here's a little teaser of the book. It's from an WNYC podcast with a bit of Amor Towles reading from "Rules of Civility", which starts around the 21:26 mark. http://www.wnyc.org/articles/talk-me/2011/jun/15/happy-beginning-happy-ending/

    2 · August 6, 2013

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