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Rules of Civility

A Novel

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


From the New York Times-bestselling author of A Gentleman in Moscow, a “sharply stylish” (Boston Globe) novel of a young woman in post-Depression era New York who suddenly finds herself thrust into high society.

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.

From Publishers Weekly

Mar 14, 2011 – In his smashing debut, Towles details the intriguing life of Katherine Kontent and how her world is upended by the fateful events of 1938. Kate and her roommate, Evelyn Ross, have moved to Manhattan for its culture and the chance to class up their lives with glamour be it with jazz musicians, trust fund lotharios, or any man with a hint of charm who will pay for dinner and drinks. Both Kate and Evelyn are enamored of sophisticated Tinker Grey, who they meet in a jazz club; he appears to be another handsome, moneyed gent, but as the women vie for his affection, a tragic event may seal a burgeoning romance's fate. New York's wealthy class is thick with snobbery, unexpected largesse, pettiness, jealousies, and an unmistakable sense of who belongs and who does not, but it's the undercurrent of unease as with Towles's depiction of how the upper class can use its money and influence to manipulate others' lives in profoundly unsavory ways that gives his vision depth and complexity. His first effort is remarkable for its strong narrative, original characters and a voice influenced by Fitzgerald and Capote, but clearly true to itself.

Customer Reviews

Rules of civility

For anyone that wants a taste of Fitzgerald with a delightful strong female protagonist- this book should be ordered.



Rules of civility

As I had just returned from Manhatten, this writing struck an unusually close chord of simpatico.

Katherine, Katie, Kate-never Kathy, is unflinchingly cast as the main character who's life follows an eventful, upward lifestyle.

While the implausibility of so many of the old monied crowd seeking Kate's friendship and approval can seem a trifle farfetched, it is still delightful to succumb to the notion that personality alone can be such a powerful invitation to a relationship.

The sharp repartee between the characters is highly entertaining and reminds us how rare such conversations are in today's society.

Kate's moral compass is so highly set that I sometimes found myself wanting her to be derailed by either greed or lust, if only for a short while. But Kate proves to be the exception to the rule, that in a gathering of acquaintances, people tend to sink to the lowest common denominator in our midst. By simple association, whether they desire to or not, Kate's friends become better people.

Visit Manhatten in the 1930's through Kate's eyes. Follow her while her relationships with Eve, Tinker Grey and a multitude of other interesting characters ebb and flow.

By the end one would think that a definite decision would have been made by the reader regarding Kate's choices for her life, but when the novel was placed on the nightstand, my ambivalence was disconcerting.

Rules of Civility
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  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Jul 26, 2011
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
  • Print Length: 368 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings