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Rules of Civility

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  159,481 ratings  ·  15,848 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, First Edition, 335 pages
Published July 26th 2011 by Viking Adult
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Judy Lindow (view spoiler) It was the son of the man who gave the party she went to as
Wallace's friend. The father suggested he take the sports car - but he chos…more
(view spoiler) It was the son of the man who gave the party she went to as
Wallace's friend. The father suggested he take the sports car - but he chose the conservative car. We see some matchmaking and in the last pages when she looks at the pictures, she revisits the memory of her and Val hugging him at their wedding. Val's looks are a cross between an aviator and a judge. We have evidence that she's attracted to both the free spirit (Dicky, Tinker, Hank) and the judges (Wallace, Mason, Anne) IMO, the 2 she loves most have both aspects: Eve and Tinker. I think it's important that Val makes a quick entry and exit. I know I've crossed paths many times with some people. Plus, with the lack of interest at that time - it's apparent that the timing would not have been right. Sometimes we have to live through different things before we're ready. In the case of these two we see and learn that they are both career oriented and not prepared to make their commitments until they did some more living on their own.(less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Carolyn This didn't spoil anything. You know she married someone else after the first 2 pages.…moreThis didn't spoil anything. You know she married someone else after the first 2 pages.(less)

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Average rating 4.04  · 
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 ·  159,481 ratings  ·  15,848 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Jul 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
”She was indisputably a natural blonde. Her shoulder-length hair, which was sandy in summer, turned golden in the fall as if in sympathy with the wheat fields back home. She had fine features and blue eyes and pinpoint dimples so perfectly defined that it seemed like there must be a small steel cable fastened to the center of each inner cheek which grew taut when she smiled. True, she was only five foot five, but she knew how to dance in two-inch heels--and she knew how to kick them off as soon ...more
Anne  (on semi-hiatus)
The prologue to this novel takes place at an exhibition of photographs by Walker Evans in 1966. The author tells us that Evans had waited 25 years to show these photos to the public due to a concern for the subjects' privacy. The photos are taken with a hidden camera in a NYC subway car and "captured a certain naked humanity." Katey, our protagonist, sees an old friend, Tinker Grey, in two of these pictures. In one he's clean shaven, wearing a custom shirt and a cashmere coat. In a photo dated o ...more
Elyse  Walters
Another $1.99 deal on this book today - A kindle download.
Am I the only one that gets excited every time they just see a book pop up of one we loved?
One of my favorite authors!!!

$1.99 Kindle Download special today! —
GREAT DEAL!!! (I spent more!)


This review is filled 'mostly' with quotes --as these are quotes I want to remember....yet without the context of the story itself ... there are N
Jun 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
This book was strange for me, at points, it was a 5, at other points a 1. There were passages (usually not parts of the narrative, but Katy's aphorisms - presumably the product of her middle-aged mind looking back) that moved me nearly to tears. These little nuggets are Katy's own "Rules of Civility" and they made the book worth reading. (E.g., "Right choices are the means by which life crystallizes loss.").

But those little tidbits are not the bulk of this quite plotty pacey novel, which is a fa
Jeanette (GR isn't sending comment notifications)
This is just delightful fun. It's a love letter, a limerick, a lollipop, a literary longing. Grab your shaker of martinis and your cocktail onions and take a ride with Katey Kontent through the streets of 1938 Manhattan. She's just a working girl trying to make it on her own, but with the right (or wrong?) friends, she manages to borrow a little glamour...and a helping or two of trouble besides.

The book is not without its flaws. I was only going to rate it four stars. After I read the epilogue
Jennifer Masterson
I’m late to the party so there isn’t much to say about this book that hasn’t already been said. What I will say is that I absolutely loved the writing, the characters, New York City in the late 1930’s, and the story!

I was having a hard time picking a book and felt I was going into another slump so I went in a totally different direction and picked an older book on my TBR. I’m so glad I did because I loved it! I need to keep reminding myself that the newest books aren’t necessarily the best ones
Olive Fellows (abookolive)
Some years, this book is a balm on my wounds. In other years, it's my rabbit hole of escape. This year, it was a work of art at which I marveled for 300 pages. ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
Jul 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
If a novel could win an award for best cinematography, this would take home the gold. Amor Towles's sophisticated retro-era novel of manners captures Manhattan 1938 with immaculate lucidity and a silvery focus on the gin and the jazz, the nightclubs and the streets, the pursuit of sensuality, and the arc of the self-made woman.

The novel's preface opens in 1966, with a happily married couple attending a Walker Evans photography exhibition. An unlikely chance encounter stuns the woman, Katey--a pi
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
Blargh, I'd been having such good luck with Goodreads Choice finalists.

I really should have put it down after page two, when the female, working-class narrator describes her roommate as follows:

"Eve was one of those surprising beauties from the American Midwest.
In New York it becomes so easy to assume that the city's most alluring women have flown in from Paris or Milan. But they're just a minority. A much larger covey hails from the stalwart states that begin with the letter I--like Iowa or Ind
Jul 31, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: most-hated
I waffled between a one or two star rating, but I'm not feeling particularly generous today, so one star it is.

Basically: upper-class middle-aged man tries to write as/about working-class young woman. And fails. I think I enjoyed about the first twenty pages of this one, and the rest just fell utterly flat. First of all, the main character (with the terrible name of Katey Kontent) was completely unconvincing and not at all compelling. It's rare that men can write convincingly in a female voice,
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"The year 1938 had been one in which four people of great color and character had held welcome sway over my life."

Katey Kontent and Eve Ross are ready to ring in the new year of 1938 at The Hotspot in Greenwich Village when the devastatingly handsome and moneyed banker with a Central Park West address walks in the door. Tinker Grey: "He had that certain confidence in his bearing, that democratic interest in his surroundings, and that understated presumption of friendliness that are only found in
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star
Rules of civility is a book by Amor Towles. He is an author whose best book is A Gentleman in Moscow. Armed with this endorsement I began reading. I realised then that this book will be unforgotten by me. Who knows, maybe when I'm in my deathbed I'll think of it and die.

I was thinking of giving the book only 4 stars. But how can that be, when I've read the book in two days flat? How can that be, when I didn't find one single page lacking in quality?

In the book, people are real. They make love, t
Robert Davis
Aug 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: new-york, favorites
This is the rare example of a book that makes you appreciate the art of writing. It is indeed remarkable that this first time author has created a debut novel that succeeds in every way. Mr. Towles has crafted a true masterpiece. This stylish, elegant and deliberately anachronistic debut novel transports readers back to Manhattan in 1938, where authentic, human characters inhabit a playground that comes alive with the manners of a society on the verge of radical upheaval.

This book is art deco, j
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Literary Sybarites
Recommended to Dolors by: Jeffrey Keeten
Shelves: read-in-2013
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

The road not taken by Robert Frost.

Katey Kontent stands on her balcony overlooking Central Park in 1966 and reflects on the journey of her life and the road she chose to walk more than twenty years ago. Vulnerable and voluptuous like Billie Holiday’s voice in “Autumn in New York”, Katey remembers the one and only genuine love of her life, the irresistible banker Tinker Grey. “For many are
Melinda Gates
Dec 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Amor Towles is a master of the English language, and when you’re deep in one of his worlds, ours feels very far away. In one glittering sentence after another, he paints a portrait of a 1930s Manhattan filled with characters straight from the pages of a novel by Edith Wharton or F. Scott Fitzgerald. It’s beautiful, it’s poignant, and it’s very funny. An excellent choice if you’re looking to be whisked away.
Apr 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thank you, Amor Towles, for writing such a lovely and sophisticated novel. Your book was a soothing tonic for this bruised and battered reader.

Rules of Civility is the story of Katey Kontent in New York City. The novel opens at an art gallery in 1966, and then flashes back to 1937 after Katey sees a photo of her former lover, Tinker Grey. She thinks back to her single days and to the night she first met Tinker in '37. She remembers how getting to know him inadvertently set her on a path that cha
New Year’s Eve 1937, Katey Kontent and Evelyn Ross meet handsome, well-heeled Tinker Grey at a bar and they see in 1938 together. They make resolutions for one another...and one of those resolutions is to get “out of your ruts.” Well, this chance meeting shakes up all their lives and not a rut is left when 1938 whistles itself into history. With New York City as a delicious backdrop, Katey navigates both the heights of society and the working class world, and along the way she learns a lot about ...more
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Immigrants or Trust Funds?

“Rules of Civility” is a love story for a city. Specifically New York City during the last few years of the 1930’s. That’s not to say that Towles's characters aren’t fully realized. They are. In fact the dialog is outstanding. When a character opens their mouth you know immediately if they haunt the docks or Park Avenue. At one point the three principle protagonists are out larking and sneak into a Marx Brothers movie. Think of how exaggerated the accents and mannerisms
Kimber Silver
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"I know that right choices by definition are the means by which life crystallizes loss."
― Amor Towles, Rules of Civility

Have you ever been immersed in something so enchanting that you have no idea how special it is until it’s over? This is the feeling I’m left with after reading Rules of Civility. Amor Towles’ dreamy lyrical prose is so beautiful that I was transported back in time to a glamorous life of martinis and manners. I could taste the bathtub gin on my tongue as the sultry jazz tw
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
$1.99 Kindle sale, August 2, 2019. I’ve wanted to read Amor Towles' first novel, Rules of Civility (named after George Washington's list of 110 social etiquette and proper behavior rules) since I fell in love with his whimsical A Gentleman in Moscow. I didn't like this one as well, but it's still worth reading.

Rules of Civility starts off slowly, the story of a young woman making her way in New York City in 1938, but with enough interesting details that I found it absorbing. The main character,
I don't want to say a lot about this book. I'm a bit tired this morning. Wanted to finish this book and denied myself a few hours of sleep.

This is the story of Kate, Eve and Tinker in the New York of 1938, where it was possible to climb the social ladder with a few rules from the father of the American republic's, George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior; a few well-positioned social connections; and and a whiff of intelligence. Everybody had a chance if you knew the rules.

In 1
Em Lost In Books
Loved the first half, and then it went downhill for me. :|
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library-borrowed
Well, that debut novel was*ahem* interesting. A tale of three twentysomethings in New York in the 1930's managed to give this book a very "F.Scott Fitzgerald " vibe, but I just wasn't wooed enough to climb as high on the rating scale. If this was bookclub, I would probably be slinging bag G&T's like there was no tomorrow while all these 4 and 5 stars would be waxing on about this coming of age story with its beautiful prose. But the only things I walked away from this book is a reading list(some ...more
Rating 3.5

There is a movie by Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris (awesome movie), that many say 'its a love letter to Paris'. A love letter to a particular time in history, the roaring 20s, where many literary and artistic people socialized. The Rules of Civility, I felt, was Towles love affair. His love affair with New York city, his love affair with the late 30s, and his love of literature.

The story follows Katey Kontent (really?) who is twenty five, living in New York's Greenwich Village, moving
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star-books
 ‘Friends are the envy of angels.’
‘The decisions we have just made will shape our lives for decades to come.’ – Rules of Civility, Amor Towles

Set in New York City of the 1930s, Rules of Civility followed the destiny of a group of young people in their twenties who greeted life with enthusiasm and hope. NYC was perceived to be a haven of possibilities where individuals could re-invent themselves simply by altering their names. Towles’ love of this city could be felt in his depiction of its vibra
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"If we only fell in love with people who were perfect for us, then there wouldn’t be so much fuss about love in the first place."

I first came across this author when I read A Gentleman in Moscow, which I absolutely adored. Reading this was my chance to see if he was a one trick pony. Let me tell you- he is not!
Amor Towles writes beautifully and evocatively of the late 1930s in New York. The book is an exploration of love, of choices made, of life fulfilled, of connections made and disguarded and
May 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a gorgeous, gorgeous book about New York City in the late 1930s. Elegant prose, one hell of a heroine, and a great story, all around.
In summary, I loved listening to this audiobook. Why? First of all, this book is a must for anyone who loves NYC. Secondly, almost every line refers to places and books and artists. There is a wonderful message. The author is a master of metaphor. Most every sentence implies more than the bare words. One example: Katey pronounces her surname Kon-TENT. Don't you see the difference between that and KON-tent? Think about it. The plot throws you a looper. The characters become real people .In the be ...more
Oct 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed
—Oh stop, Eve said. It’s dreadful. What is it?
—Virginia Woolf.
—Ugh. Tinker brought home all these novels by women as if that’s what I needed to get me back on my feet. He’s surrounded my bed with them. It’s as if he’s planning to brick me in. Isn’t there anything else?

Rules of Civility left me cold. I did not hate it, I did not like, I certainly did not love it as much as other people, including a lot of readers whose reviews I value, loved this book.

I don't even know whether it was the detach
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed Rules of Civility, but looking back on it, it's hard to explain exactly why. On the surface, there's nothing terribly special about the story itself, which centers around Katey, a working class girl living her life in Manhattan during the 1930s. A chance encounter propels her to friendships with wealthy Manhattanites, which provide her with opportunity and privilege as well as relationships and experiences that shape who she is.

And yet, there is something so compelling about thi
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Born and raised in the Boston area, Amor Towles graduated from Yale College and received an MA in English from Stanford University. Having worked as an investment professional in Manhattan for over twenty years, he now devotes himself fulltime to writing. His first novel, Rules of Civility, published in 2011, was a New York Times bestseller in both hardcover and paperback and was ranked by the Wal ...more

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