Book Review: Rules of Civility–Amor Towles


Title:  Rules of Civility

Author: Amor Towles (author website)

Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (June 26, 2012)

ISBN 10: 0143121162

Pages: 352 pages

Format: Audio Book – Borrowed from Library

Reading Guide

About the Book:  (from Good

On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar with her boardinghouse roommate stretching three dollars as far as it will go when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker with royal blue eyes and a tempered smile, happens to sit at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a yearlong journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool toward the upper echelons of New York society and the executive suites of Condé Nast–rarefied environs where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve.

Wooed in turn by a shy, principled multi-millionaire and an irrepressible Upper East Side ne’er-do-well, befriended by a single-minded widow who is a ahead of her time,and challenged by an imperious mentor, Katey experiences firsthand the poise secured by wealth and station and the failed aspirations that reside just below the surface. Even as she waits for circumstances to bring Tinker back into her life, she begins to realize how our most promising choices inevitably lay the groundwork for our regrets.

Setting:  New York, 1937


About the Author:

Born in 1964, Amor Towles was raised in a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts. He graduated from Yale College and received an M.A. in English from Stanford University where he was a Scowcroft Fellow. He is a principal at an investment firm in Manhattan, where he lives with his wife and two children. He is on the boards of the Library of America and the Yale Art Gallery.

Mr. Towles is an ardent fan of early 20th century painting, 1950’s jazz, 1970’s cop shows, rock & roll on vinyl, manifestoes, breakfast pastries, pasta, liquor, snow-days, Tuscany, Provence, Disneyland, Hollywood, the cast of Casablanca, 007, Captain Kirk, Bob Dylan (early, mid, and late phases), the wee hours, card games, cafés, and the cookies made by both of his grandmothers.

His novel, Rules of Civility, was published by Viking/Penguin in July 2011 and reached the bestseller lists of The New York Times, the Boston Globe and Los Angeles Times. The book was rated by The Wall Street Journal as one of the ten best works of fiction in 2011. The book’s French translation received the 2012 Prix Fitzgerald. The book is being published in 15 languages. 

(from author’s website)

Related Media: – Book Trailer

My Review:  Rules of Civility by Amor Towles was the selection of the month for my book group, Books & Babble.  I really didn’t have an notion of this book before starting the audio book.  At times I wished I would have had the book instead of the audio.  Towles has a way with words that had me wishing I could highlight the descriptions to share at a later time!   One of my favorite things about Rules of Civility is the language or prose of Amor Towles.  On the flip side, listening to Rules of Civility was wonderful to listen too. The language was elegant and flowed very well.  The audio was well performed and I felt like it was 1938!

The cast of characters were many and even minor characters were well developed.  Mostly the Rules of Civility revolves around three friends, Eve, Katey and Tinker.  Katey was intelligent and witty. She was a hardworker, but knew how to have fun.  And oh how fun New York City was in the 1930’s!  The boarding houses, jazz clubs and restaurants were so lively. Towles really has you feeling like you are experiences the city in the 1930’s. 

Rules of Civility is a love story that bridges social class and is tested by many events.  In order to climb the social ladder the characters of Rules of Civility are willing to risk everything for wealth. Katey was my favorite character with her love for books, her persistence, determination and spunk.  Will the characters find love and happiness in the end??

My Rating: 4 – I really liked Rules of Civility – The 1930’s in New York was very entertaining and fun to experience through the lives of Eve and Katey.   I loved the audio and would recommend it to others.  In discussing Rules of Civility at book group there were many details in the book that not everyone caught.   In discussing the book your understanding and appreciation of Rules of Civility grows.

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

Other Bloggers Reviews :

Literate Housewife

1776 Books

Bookworm Meets Bookworm

Booking Mama

Literary Inklings


Happy Reading!







  1. Meg @ A Bookish Affair Avatar

    Ooo, this sounds really good to me. I haven't read too many books set in the 1930s at all!

  2. Kristen Avatar

    I picked this one up but haven't gotten to it yet. Good to hear that it was really worth it. 🙂

  3. Marlene Detierro Avatar

    This comment has been removed by the author.

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