Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Rules of Civility

Wow. I think I have just read the ultimate in This meets That novel. It’s The Rules of Civility by first time author Amor Towles. It’s a playful, revisit to a 1930’s that only happened in books and movies.

It is 1937 and best friends Katey and Eve are at the lower end of the white collar world by day and perched on bar stools scouting for Mr. Right by night. Start the snowflakes and cue Auld Lang Syne because on New Year’s Eve the immanently eligible Theodore Grey walks into the Greenwich Village bar where Katey and Eve are nursing their martinis. Then—spoiler alert---things change forever.

The plot of The Rules of Civility is a crazy quilt of every Joan Crawford movie made between 1932 and 1939, Sex in the City and the novels of Anita Loos and Frances Parkinson Keyes. It is every bit as enjoyable as those four things just not as original or fresh.

Towles gets all the mechanics in The Rules of Civility right. The settings are detail perfect from bachelorette flats to elegant Oyster Bay mansions. The dialog feels authentic with plenty of snappy banter and the characters behave appropriately risqué for the time. You’ll have fun with Katey and Eve but if it is a bit familiar don’t scratch your head over it. The déjà vu is real.

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