Although it took me almost three weeks to read this book, it turned out to be one of my favorites. Awarded five stars on Goodreads
The pace starts off kind of slow, gradually picks up, then becomes a tense and suspenseful page-turner at the end. But this is also one of the most beautifully written books I’ve read in years, where I stopped often to read a paragraph aloud to my husband, because it so perfectly and eloquently captured a universal moment in the human experience. And with so much humor throughout.
At the start of the book, it is early in the 1920s under the new Soviet regime, and Count Alexander Rostov has been placed under house arrest at Moscow’s Swanky Hotel Metropol. Although he must remain indoors — he lives a full life, forging lifelong friendships, transitioning successfully from the life of a born aristocrat to a hotel server, and foster parenting a young girl who is unceremoniously dumped into his care.
Though stuck in one location, Rostov witnesses the changes brought by civil war, Stalin’s five-year industrialization plans, the Gulags, and Khrushchev’s ascending star — all from his vantage point in a hotel restaurant. He is introduced to the secret and hidden locations at the hotel (which come in useful years later), and devises creative ways to use a few valuable heirlooms to secure both a warm home and to open up new opportunities in faraway places.
From the early 1920s until the mid 1950s, he applies his upbringing as a gentleman to make the lives of those around him easier and more enjoyable. Rostov is truly a wonderful main character, showing how much one human can impact the lives others, regardless of limitations. This one is simply delightful!