Who can resist a story about a hotel-bound aristocrat?
Stop now and get this book. Escape, enjoy, and then be wowed.
Alex comes from a prominent family. Labeled a Former Person by the new regime in Russia, he is sentenced to house arrest in a centrally located hotel in Moscow in the early 1900s.
Despite his fall from political grace, Alex thrives through the decades. Alex takes care of those in his small circle, and learns quickly how to use his limited resources. Many of his skills are honed over years, making him a jack of all hotel-trades. If you’ll allow me this comparison, it was like an extended, cultivated version of the movie The Terminal.
In fact, Alex is like an undercover conductor of an orchestra, the orchestra he used to be able to see out of the best hotel room. I found myself rooting for him, but then at unsuspecting turns, surprised by his acuity: the location and monotony alone would have dulled my senses.
Yet he’s able to have a perspective and service mindset that keeps those around him thriving. This inspired me, and gave me renewed sense of gratefulness. It also appealed to my love of loyalty. It’s rare to see that played out in books I’ve read recently.
Most striking for me, unversed in Russian history, were the incidental observations of the impact of a certain political philosophy on his life.
If you read “A Tale of Two Beasts” for a simple outlook on keeping perspective, please read “A Gentleman in Moscow” for a more extended, political one. I say this as a political Independent, completely committed to helping both sides see the other.
The author of this book does a masterful job with the underlay. We never lose the story to dates and details, or – my fear – names with which I’m unfamiliar. Instead, Alex’s story remains at the forefront.
Yes, Russia’s history unfolds on the other side of the glass, but we always have a clear view of Alex’s character, and his people, and his enemies. This is a story of how the person does not lose himself to what his country becomes.
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