Rules of Civility: The Book That Wrecked My Blog

Well, that and a few others . . . .  I don’t know if you’ve missed me, but if you have, maybe it’s some consolation that I’ve been hermitting away reading a lot of great books?

I finished Rules of Civility, by Amor Towles last night.  (I picked it up after Anne listed it as a “book worth binge reading.”  She’s right, and I did.)   It left with me that familiar, bittersweet, sad-but-satisfied little ache in my stomach. A clear sign of a good novel.


In a nutshell (as summarized on the author’s website),

Rules of Civility tells the story of a watershed year in the life of an uncompromising twenty-five-year-old named Katey Kontent. Armed with little more than a formidable intellect, a bracing wit, and her own brand of cool nerve, Katey embarks on a journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool through the upper echelons of New York society in search of a brighter future.

On the surface, Rules  of Civility draws to mind The Great Gatsby.  Most of the reviews focus on Towles’ glittering depiction of Manhattan high society in the late 1930s.

To me, however, Rules of Civility felt more akin to I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, with its themes of first love, loss,growing up, and moving on.  I think, at heart, Rules of Civility is a coming-of-age novel, even though the protagonist is twenty-five and not the classic ingenue.  (I suppose Great Gatsby is a coming-of-age story of a sort, so perhaps it’s not an either/or comparison.)

There’s a lot I could write about what I did or didn’t like about the book and its protagonist.  And I question whether it’s as accurate a portrayal of the era as it’s made out to be.  Regardless, it’s a gem.

If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts.  And if you’ve read both Rules of Civility and I Capture the Castle, I’d really love to hear your thoughts.  (Toward the end, of Rules of Civility has the line, “I have hoped; I am hoping; I will hope.”  I Capture the Castle ends with the line, “I love. I have loved. I will love.”  Could that possibly be a coincidence?  C’mon!)


Linking up with Jessica for What We’re Reading Wednesday!




12 thoughts on “Rules of Civility: The Book That Wrecked My Blog

  1. Now there’s a good post title for you!

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the book! I requested I Capture the Castle from the library after someone (it wasn’t you, was it??) drew the same parallel. I’m traveling this week, and I downloaded Amor Towles’ follow-up Kindle single (Eve in Hollywood) for the plane.

    And now I want to read Rules of Civility again. 🙂

    • Yes, that was me on Goodreads, so it may be just in my imagination. They aren’t similar in many obvious ways but I get the same “feeling” from both. Safe travels and happy reading!

  2. Have never read; but will add to my ‘list’. I love a good ‘coming of age’ story!

    BTW I nominated you for an award on my blog today ~ come by and see!

  3. I read it but somehow didn’t like it and I wasn’t sure why. To me it had a modern feeling of nihilism about it, but it’s been awhile since I’ve read it so I’m not sure why I thought that. But I’ve never read I Capture the Castle so now I’m really curious!

    • I can see what you mean about R of C. It definitely has some modern attitudes or what have you that didn’t seem true to the era. And I didn’t like the way the author left things with two main characters, like marriage isn’t worth pursuing. . . . Somehow though, I just really enjoyed it overall.

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  5. I don’t think I ever would have made that connection between these books, but I loved them both so much. I stumbled across I Capture the Castle at library a few years ago. I five-starred in on Goodreads but really I wanted to run around and grab people by the lapels and say, “read this book!” Some books just feel like magic when they hit you right. Thank you for making that comparison. I know what I’ll be re-reading this summer!

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