I adored this novel, the story of “former person” Count Alexander Rostov.

In 1922, Count Rostov – recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew, member of the Jockey Club and Master of the Hunt – is declared an enemy of the state and informed he will be shot if he ever ventures out of his place of residence, Moscow’s elegant Hotel Metropol.

I can’t be the only reader wondering how this action in the opening pages would fuel a 462-page novel, but I was extremely pleased to be proven wrong.

From his simple attic room of the luxurious Metropol, Count Rostov is an astute observer of the tumultuous times unfolding around him. The novel spans three decades and a premier hotel in the shadow of Red Square is the ideal location to observe a rapidly changing Russia.

Even if the book takes place between the four walls of the Metropol Hotel, it tells the tale of tumultuous changes in Russia, and we are front row observers from our place of privilege in the fading Grande dame of a once great hotel – still the favored gathering point of the new Russian order. Even more importantly, Count Rostov makes a charming companion to navigate this brave, new, bleak world.

Beautifully written, expertly observed, and strikingly on-mark, this is a not-to-be-missed read. I found myself wishing I could pull up a chair, pour a vodka, and discuss Russian literature until the early morning hours with the charismatic Count Rostov…