I’m not going to lie, I was drawn to this book based on its aesthetic appeal. Is it just me or is anyone else completely enthralled with Post-Great Depression culture? The women always look so glamorous, and the period immediately following the Great Depression was fantastic, if you were rich enough to enjoy it.
Amor Towles’ Rules of Civility follows the story of the young Katey Kontent and best friend Evey Ross, both young women from the middle class living in New York City. Eve convinced Katey to spend the last night of 1937 in a swanky jazz club in the city.
Katey and Eve come from blue-collar families and were making their own way in the city while living in a boardinghouse with other young women.
This story epitomizes the fact that one night can change one’s life forever. A handsome, young banker happens upon the two and engages them in conversation. The two are fascinated by the young man’s clothing, topics of conversation, and his interest in them. From there, Katey and Eve are swept off their feet by the young man. They begin to frequently meet up with him and, slowly, they are welcomed into his social circle of other well-to-do elites.
No longer are Eve and Ross unnoticeable young women living in the city. Their lives are consumed with thoughts, activities, fashion, and attitude of the incredibly wealthy New Yorker. How seamlessly they adjust to this lifestyle! How can you blame them, though?
Eve calls “dibs” on the shy multimillionaire from the beginning, but the plot line is heavily focused on the changes Katey undergoes and witnesses throughout the span of that year (and beyond).
I really enjoyed the plot of the story, as I love this period of history. At times, I felt as though the plot line was moving a little slowly, but unpredictably nonetheless. It may seem unrealistic that so much changes for the two women in one night, and the author demonstrates that by bringing some sense of realism into the story.
While Eve’s personality and character changes dramatically, Katey remains the modest young women she appeared to be at the beginning of the book, and I admired that.
As I read, I did something I haven’t done in a while. I brought out my highlighter! This is an old habit I’ve reverted to, reminiscent of those awful times in Advanced Placement Literature and Language classes in high school. Back then, we were required to annotate almost every book we read. We were graded for it then, and I dreaded it. Now, I’ve found that I’ve picked up that habit and, it actually works. I’ll highlight quotes I like, words I don’t know, and write my thoughts in the margins. I’m sure this annoys people who borrow my books, but they’ll just have to deal. I have the ability to do a lot of those functions on my Kindle; but, again, there’s something about having the physical book.
Just like with my review of Beautiful Ruins, I’ll attach the NPR review for Rules of Civility. You know how much I love NPR 🙂