If you’re looking to analyze and talk about Amor Towles’ #1 New York Times mega-bestselling book, these A Gentleman in Moscow book club questions will foster thoughtful discussion about this unforgettable work of modern literature.
Five out of five stars.
A Gentleman in Moscow is one of my absolute favorite character-driven books I have read in the past few decades. With a clever storyline involving a Russian aristocrat under house arrest in a hotel for decades, beginning in 1922 Moscow, its complex layers make it the type of book the reader savors then continues to think about years afterward. (I know I did.)
Not just historical fiction, it ventures into romance, political thrills, family drama, and more, with a variety of colorful characters from a young girl to a famous actress and hotel staff. And like any grand hotel, the Metropol is filled with secret compartments, a wine cellar, elegant stationery, and other descriptions that breathe life into it. Both the Count and his life in the Metropol hotel, feel real to the reader by the time the last page is turned, and that feeling never fades.
Author Amor Towles is known for richly written literary books (I also loved Rules of Civility), and A Gentleman in Moscow became a #1 New York Times bestseller with over 2 million readers who also fell in love with the novel. And in development to become a TV series starring Ewan McGregor.
Because I love this book so much, I decided to return to it in my mind by sharing these A Gentleman in Moscow book club questions with other readers. I’ll also share a few fun book club ideas for the novel.
A Gentleman in Moscow Book Club Questions
Discuss the above quotes from A Gentleman in Moscow.
Was the Count lucky or unlucky to receive the sentence of house arrest?
Discuss the meaning of family in the Count’s life both before and after his arrest.
How did the Count’s sister influence the Count’s life?
Discuss the intersection between art (poetry, literature, music, movies) and politics in A Gentleman in Moscow, and in real life.
Why do you think the Count loves the movie Casablanca so much?
Why do such different characters as the Count and young Nina get along?
How do the various characters in A Gentleman in Moscow impact the very limited life of the Count?
How does Sofia change the life of the Count?
What gives the Count a sense of purpose in his limited life?
Is the Count’s life a “full” one?
How does the Count change over time, particularly due to his circumstances and due to Russian politics?
What were the highs and lows of the Count’s life at the Metropol?
In your opinion, what was the highest high and the lowest low of the Count’s life throughout A Gentleman in Moscow?
How does the Count cope with the lows in his life?
How may the Count’s life have differed were he not under house arrest?
How do you envision the Metropol?
What were your favorite descriptions of the Metropol?
Who was your favorite staff member at the Metropol?
Who was your favorite character in the Count’s life?
Was the count more in control of his life or lacking control in his life?
Were the Count’s circumstances due to fate, chance, or choice?
How does working affect the Count’s life?
Discuss the food and drinks at the Metropol.
If you were to eat or drink at the Metropol, what would you order?
Are you aware that the Metropol is a real hotel?
Discuss the importance of the passkeys both figuratively and literally.
Did you find any parts of A Gentleman in Moscow to be funny?
Does COVID-19 (and its mandatory quarantines) change your perspective on the Count’s circumstances?
Discuss Russian politics at the time period in which A Gentleman in Moscow was set.
Did you learn anything new about Russian politics?
How does Towles convey what’s happening outside the Metropol?
Did you notice any differences in the behavior of characters of different classes?
Discuss the role of gender in A Gentleman in Moscow.
Would you have tried to escape the Metropol?
Technically, A Gentleman in Moscow is historical fiction. Would you categorize it as any other genre or sub-genre?
If you were under house arrest in a hotel for much of your lifetime, which hotel do you wish it would be?
Did the ending of A Gentleman in Moscow surprise you at all?
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Book Club Ideas
- Amor Towles recommends eating the Latvian stew that the Count enjoys in the Piazza.
- Recreate and drink one of the Metropol bartender’s colorful cocktails: Goldenrod, the Robin’s Egg, the Brick Wall, and the Christmas Tree.
- Learn more about the (real) Metropol hotel.
- Read more from Amor Towles, or Russian greats Tolstoy and Chekhov.
- Watch Casablanca.
- Watch the book trailer for A Gentleman in Moscow:
Frequently Asked Questions
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles begins in 1922 in Moscow, Russia, where Count Alexander Rostov wrote a poem by which he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal. Sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol hotel near the Kremlin, the Count, who has never even worked before, is now the resident of an attic room in the hotel, as decades of tumultuous times in Russian history occur outside his four walls. Limited in his outer worldliness over the years, his ventures instead bring him surprising inner emotional discoveries about life.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles is about finding happiness, purpose, and connection despite circumstances that limit you. It’s also about the ability for humans to control our lives in the face of social and political change. And it makes important statements about the nature of freedom.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles begins with the poem “Where Is It Now?” published under the name of the protagonist Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, an aristocrat who, at the time, had free speech. It questioned whether the nobility was outdated (prior to its abolition), and it was considered to be a form of prerevolutionary rebellion.
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These A Gentleman in Moscow book club questions help you discuss a memorable tale of resilience and self-discovery, all within the confines of the Metropol Hotel. Whether you’re discussing the beauty of routine in confinement or the evolution of friendships over decades, these prompts lead you to enlightening and heartfelt discussions. Celebrate the timeless nature of human connection both in the book and in your book club!
Keep the discussion going! Share your thoughts on A Gentleman in Moscow or any remaining questions you may have in the comments below.