Wednesday, December 6, 2017


When Count Alexander Rostov finds himself under house arrest in Moscow as a result of the Bolshevik Revolution, he could just give up.  However, he has lived for years in a suite in the Hotel Metropol, and now he is confined to a small attic room in that same hotel.  With the help of an inquisitive child named Nina, he accepts his situation and even manages to spark a sense of adventure within himself, as they explore the less public rooms of the hotel together.  We’re not sure how she acquired it, but Nina also has a passkey, so that no room is off limits for this daring pair.  The novel spans several decades, as the Count makes the acquaintance of all sorts of people, including an American ambassador and a famous actress.  His world, however, is starkly insulated from the outside strife of the Soviet Union, WWII, and bad weather.  The reality of the proletarian society does emerge from time to time, most vividly when the wine labels in the wine cellar have all been removed, so that restaurant patrons’ only choice is between red and white.  The Count, however, maintains his diplomatic demeanor throughout, showing kindness, courtesy, and compassion.  He is certainly a charming character to cherish and remember.  The prose is exquisite, and so is the ending, but I found the pacing of most of the novel to be a little slow.  Still, I certainly admire the Count’s example of living his life to the fullest extent that his circumstances allow.

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