Rules of Civility: A Novel


From the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Lincoln Highway and A Gentleman in Moscow, a "sharply stylish" (Boston Globe) book about a young woman in post-Depression era New York who suddenly finds herself thrust into high society--now with over one million readers worldwide

On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society--where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve.

With its sparkling depiction of New York's social strata, its intricate imagery and themes, and its immensely appealing characters, Rules of Civility won the hearts of readers and critics alike.
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368 pages

Average rating: 7.51




Community Reviews

Jul 05, 2024
10/10 stars
I LOVED this book. Could not put it down. Set in New York in the late 1930s, it evokes images of old black & white movies, where everyone and everything is glamorous, even the poor folk.

Brooklyn-born Katey Kontent and her roomie, Evey Ross, a Midwestern transplant, are single girls living it up in NYC. As they are ringing in the New Year of 1938, they meet dashing Tinker Grey and they become an inseparable threesome.

As we move through 1938 with Katey, we get to meet all the people who weave in and out of her life and see how they influence her, and how some of them may not be exactly as they appear...

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Janet H
Jun 04, 2024
Yet another great novel by Towle. Set in 1930’s, Katey’s rollicking adventures through NY society make for a very pleasurable read.
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Feb 05, 2024
7/10 stars
A roaring time in the romance of youth in New York where glamour and sprite makes the reader feel like this was the best era to live and love. An independent woman before it was common or attractive driven by intellect while following what is right. Miscalculations and assumptions could avoid disappointment or heartache but often less us to our destiny.
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Dec 28, 2023
6/10 stars
The night Kate and Eve meet up in a dingy jazz bar in lower Manhattan to swing in the New Year of 1937, they meet a handsome Manhattanite from the Upper West Side. Genteel and well-to-do, Theodore Grey (Tinker) shows them what it's like to live on the other side of the tracks, and in turn, they show him the working-class side of the city. But in the style of the noir, nothing is exactly as it seems. Beneath the veneer of high society, Kate finds a web of lies and deceit, and discovers the compromises some people make to climb to the top of the social ladder. In New York, everything has its price: dignity, of success, even love.

If you're looking for a flapper-era tour guide of Manhattan with dark witty banter to boot, this is your book. From the chandeliered apartments in Sugar Hill to the Russian burlesque bars in the garment district, the trio embark on a whirlwind tour of the island. *Bonus book: the 2011 Penguin edition also comes with George Washington's own 'Rules of Civility.' I believe Towles may have premised the entire book on the last rule, #110: "Labour to keep alive in your Breast the Little Spark of Celestial fire Called Conscience."
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Steve Crandall
Nov 11, 2023
10/10 stars
wow! But I’m a Towles fan.
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