Free Public Library
A Gentleman in Moscow
2:30 – 4:00
1. Start with
the Count. How would you describe him? Do you find him an appealing, even
2. In what way does his gilded cage, his "prison" for decades, transform
Count Rostov? How do you see him changing during the course of the novel?
What incidents have the most profound effect on him? Consider the incident
with the beehive and the honey.
3. The Metropol serves literally and symbolically as a window on the world.
What picture does Amor Towles paint of the Soviet Union—the brutality, its
Kafka-esque bureaucracy, and the fear it inspires among its citizens? What
are the pressures, for instance, faced by those who both live in and visit
the Metropol? Does Towles's dark portrait overwhelm the story's narrative?
4. Talk about Nina, who even Towles considers the Eloise of the Metropol.
Nina helps the Count unlock the hotel (again, literally and symbolically),
revealing a much richer place than the it first seemed. What do we, along
with the Count, discover?
5. What might Casablanca be the Count's favorite film? What does it suggest
about his situation?
6. Talk about the other characters, aside from Nina, who play an important
part in this novel the handyman, the actress, his friend Mishka, and even
Osip Glebnikov. Consider the incident with the honey.
7. The Count was imprisoned for writing the poem, "where is it now?", which
questioned the purpose of the new Soviet Union. Care to make any comparisons
now with Russia under Putin, 70-some years later?