What I’m Reading Now

So last week I mentioned I was reading Amor Towles’s Rules of Civility, and there were some comments about how beautiful the cover of this book is.  I decided I had to share it here since a) The cover really is totally gorgeous (and was what grabbed my attention in the first place) and b) The book itself was so amazingly good.  I read it in a couple of days and wanted it to go on longer.

It’s set in 1937, and has a very Fitzgerald-y feeling to the prose (one reviewer called it a “throwback” novel, which it is in the best sense of the word–very atmospheric, full of characters doing glamorous things with a dark underpinning and having witty conversations).  It opens in 1937, among the upper society of New York City, and is narrated by Katy Kontent, a young woman working in publishing and pulling herself up from a lower-class Russian Brighton Beach upbringing.  She and her friend Eve, out carousing in jazz clubs on New Year’s Eve, meet a handsome young banker named Tinker Gray, you think the story is heading one way, then–well, it doesn’t.  It’s almost Regency-esque in its complicated and detailed view of a very specific world.  I loved it.

I am always looking for books set in the 1920s and 1930s, such a rich setting that isn’t seen much in romance (though I think it definitely should be!).  I did one Undone short story set in the ’20s,The Girl in the Beaded Mask, and I would love to do more…

Right now I’ve started reading Sadie Jones’s The Uninvited Guests, since I’m still in a 1930s mood.  What have you been reading lately?  Do you like books set in this time period??

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Liz Mc2
10 years ago

I loved Towles’ book. It’s interesting for a romance reader, because it’s like looking at romance tropes through a mirror. I agree it felt Fitzgerald-like, and captured the “feel” of its time. The cover is beautiful, and the inclusion of Walker Evans’ subway photos and the way Towles worked them into the plot was great. This was one book I was very glad to be reading in dead tree form, because it was a lovely object.

Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

I totally agree, Liz. Usually I favor my e-reader for novels, but this one felt like such a book-book. And I loved how everything came together in the end…

Diane Gaston
10 years ago

The Towles book sounds interesting, Amanda.

You might be interested in my friend, Jane Sevier’s book, Fortune’s Fool.
It is set in 1930. Here’s the premise: “When her husband dies and leaves her penniless, a 1930s Memphis socialite becomes a fortuneteller, only to discover that she has the true sight.”

10 years ago

I haven’t read many books set in the 20s or 30s. I picked up several books written during the 30s and 40s and still need to read most of them. I love reading the old books. The style and tempo of the writing was much different from today’s authors. They give you such a feel of time and place. It is a window into the era. A few years ago, I read one set just prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It took place in the Washington, DC area and pretty much ended with their reactions to the President’s radio address. It was an interesting insight into the country’s state of mind and daily life as it was, not as we think it was. I’d give you the title, but my dog chewed the book up. Thankfully, she waited until after I finished. It is the only book she has ever bothered.

Elena Greene
10 years ago

I haven’t read many books set in the 20s or 30s but you are making me intrigued.

Right now I’m reading research books for the work-in-progress and Buddhist books to help keep me sane enough to finish. 🙂

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