Best Book of the Week!
In 1966, the former Katey Kontent and her husband Val are attending an exhibit of Depression Era photographs at the Museum of Modern Art when they spot two pictures of an old friend of Katey’s, Tinker Grey. In one, he appears as a sophisticated, well-dressed banker, and in the other, shabby and unkempt, but lit from within. Val assumes that the man lost his money in the Depression, but Katey says that is not exactly the case.
Back in 1937, Katey and her best friend Eva Ross are two carefree working-class girls trying to have fun in New York on a very limited budget. On New Year’s Eve, they are at a scruffy jazz club when a young, immaculately dressed man comes in to meet his brother. It is Tinker Grey, a wealthy investment advisor. The girls end up spending the evening with him and then seeing him regularly. From the first, he seems more attracted to Katey than to Eva, but fate takes a hand and links Tinker and Eva, seemingly irrevocably.
Katey and Eva are introduced through Tinker to the life of privileged young New York, entering the highest echelons of society. As Katey’s future life is decided by the people she meets during the next year, she learns to judge appearances more accurately and to hone her own acute moral sense.
Katey is a smart, witty, and engaging heroine with a strong sense of self. I found the novel to be beautifully written and absorbing. Rules of Civility is an impressive first novel from Amor Towles.