Rules of Civility
By Amor Towles
Viking, 2011. 334 pgs. Historical Fiction.
The year is 1938 and the city is New York. America is just finding its financial footing after surviving the Great Depression and young Americans are seeing that their dreams may not be as impossible as they may have seemed only a few years ago. On a dark New Year’s Eve, Katey, Eve, and Tinker meet up and begin the year with a promise to break out of their ruts and embrace unexpected opportunities. Within weeks, a tragic car accident will force those promised changes and start the three friends toward futures no one could have anticipated.
This story is fantastic and these characters are vibrantly depicted, but it’s the sense of place the author infuses in his writing that makes this one of the best books I’ve read this year. Katey, is by far, the star of the story. And, while the book is certainly more literary than those typically labeled ‘chick lit’, I can not seem to keep myself from placing her among my favorite heroines from that genre. She is certainly more self-assured and socially presentable than Bridget Jones, but she still inspires in this reader that same sense of loyalty and desire for her to come out on top. This is an easy recommendation to historical and literary fiction readers.