Friday, October 12, 2012

Rules of Civility

Sometimes, I come across a book that I get lost in, and even days after I've finished turning the last page I find myself reminded by a scene or chuckling over a joke. Rules of Civility was such a book this year, I first heard about it in January and it's been on my radar ever since, but I only got around to it this month when it fit the tag the book group I'm in chose for October.



It's very rare that I start a book with high expectations and find myself star struck at the end, wanting to give it another whirl, just for fun. This is definitely going on my top five for 2012. 

Kate and Val attend a photo exhibition in 1966, and there she recognizes someone from a photo that takes her back to 1938. In the New York of her twenties, Kate celebrates the new year with her room mate Eve, and Tinker Grey, a banker whom they've just met. Through Tinker, Kate & Eve step into a different society in New York and their friendship takes a turn for something else.

This is a book that could just as well be a time machine. The descriptions are very much alive and can effortlessly take you to the time, and place. I loved the way the dialogue was written; I felt that the lack of quotation marks made everything just blend wonderfully, and made the reader blend in with the story if that makes sense. 

It's a story of friendship, and love, and yes, a city. It's coming of age in a way, and observations in retrospect. Kate's voice came across very clearly and I really did not want to finish this book. I had several things to do this week and my reading time was chopped up, but this was just perfect for this book. I did not want to finish it in a day or two, and now that I've finished I suspect it's the kind of book that would have me walking around aimless for a few days before picking something else. Some books just do that to me!

On a side note, did anyone notice that a lot of cars made an appearance in the book? My knowledge of cars is absolutely zilch, so goodness knows if I've imagined them correctly (I have a feeling I'll be researching 1920's bentleys and mercedes' just for fun sooner or later). After the first two or three cars were mentioned I found myself doubting that Katey with her background, her literary dreams, and apparent non driving skills could make out so many models. But then again maybe not everyone is as car blind as I can sometimes be. Not that all the car descriptions took away from the enjoyment of the story!

I liked how Kate's personality developed, and how she always seemed to stay true to her character but was willing to try new things. Her observations on people's actions and her ability to read people. I liked Wallace too, and like how his friendship with Kate seemed to make her more open to things, and sort of more understanding of herself and others. Eve, on the other hand, I found to be too selfish and spoilt. Even though she wanted to be independent and did not accept help from her parents, her actions were not in line with her ideals. 

Tis a book I'll be recommending right and left.