I love when I read a book that makes me smile when I sit down to write about it. "A Gentleman in Moscow" by Amor Towles is definitely one of those books!
A historical fiction, the story follows Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov during his 30-year exile/house arrest inside the Metropol Hotel in Moscow. Beginning in 1922 and ending in the '60s, the book takes you on a journey through friendship, family, intrigue, a little romance, and a bit of Russian history as well. I highly recommend it, especially the audiobook. The reader is delightful. He makes our refined main character, Count Rostov, and his fellow Hotelians absolutely irresistible.
In all honesty, I was expecting this book to be intense and difficult to read, as many books about Russian history are heart-wrenching and/or require a scorecard to keep track of all the names and concepts. But this book was light-hearted and fun in many ways and is definitely readable with minimal knowledge of Russian history. I do, however, feel that some knowledge of the Bolshevik Revolution and the following years would be helpful to understand certain parts of the book. Knowing a bit of that made me appreciate certain phrases or notions that I think I otherwise would have missed or skimmed over.
What I appreciated most about this book was that it gives a very different perspective on life in Russia during Stalin's reign—that of a rich aristocrat trapped in his own country. Naturally, it doesn't come close to giving a full perspective of life in Russia during this time, however it does provide a different point-of-view, which I appreciated. I also loved its accessibility to those who know little about Russia and acts as a primer to spark interest.
Give it a read or a listen! It's literary, witty, refined, intelligent, and charming.