I love my book club. I love the ladies that are a part of it (naturally) and I love that they force me to read books that I may not otherwise have selected myself. We’ve been meeting for just over a year and a half now and the books that we have read to this point include: So Much For That, A Fine Balance and The Help. Our most recent selection, that we are meeting to discuss in just over a week is Amor Towles’ Rules of Civility.
I was not the one that suggested this read but I was totally going to after I saw the cover in a pre-Christmas book browse. I know you’re not supposed to judge books by covers, but come on, we all do it. That’s why good book design is so important. This one is a black and white photograph of a woman in a perfect 1930s dress and shoes, reclining with her one arm behind her head, smiling at this dashing gentleman in a very proper suit, drink in hand.
How can you not want to read that?
Rules of Civility follows Katey Kontent and her roommate/best friend Eve Ross as they party their way through 1937 New York. They share a bed at a rooming house and borrow each other’s clothes at night, while during the day they work in legal secretary pools to cover the rent. Their lives change on New Years’ Eve when they meet Tinkey Grey, a well to do New York banker with a swanky apartment and connections in all the right places. The girls each think of Tinker as their own but it is Eve that ends up with him after a horrible car accident leaves Tinker feeling responsible for her during her recovery.
Eve’s life isn’t the only one that changes though. Katey leaves the rooming house and gets a small apartment of her own, gets a new job and finds herself part of a new crowd of trust fund babies.
I’m torn about how I feel about Katey Kontent, but I’m sure that my book club ladies will show me another way to look at her. On the one hand she’s out there making her own way through male-dominated New York, earning everything for herself, making her own opportunities.
But on the other, as soon as a viable male option comes along, she seems to drop everything and create her life around him. And I know it is supposed to be the 1930s and women still really had no options for viable lives without a man to buy it for her, but my modern day sensibilities clearly win the day.
I enjoyed the tour through New York. It was almost like a follow up, many years later, to the New York that I lived when I read The Age of Innocence. Things changed quickly!
Can I also just say that the font that this book used was beautiful? I love beautiful fonts. This one was excellent. I looked for a note in the back to say which font was used, but alas, there wasn’t one. I love when those are included.
Anyway, I enjoyed reading Rules of Civility and I’m sure that I will have more thoughts on the book once my book club meets, but for now I will just say that it was a fun read but didn’t really present me with any super strong feelings one way or another.