"A Gentleman in Moscow" is the book that Montaigne would have written had he lived in the 20th century. It's a book that slowly seduces you with wit, grace, and Old World charm. As we live with Count Alexander Rostov in Moscow's famous Metropol Hotel, we hear stories of his youth over lunch in the glamorous Boyarsky restaurant, weigh his philosophical observations during his daily planning session with his co-workers in the kitchen, delight in his outfoxing of the meddlesome hotel manager "The Bishop" in the halls, and share in intimate family moments between the Count and his adopted daughter in their tiny apartment. As Russia changes all around him under the Bolsheviks, we watch as the Count comes to terms with his house arrest in the Metropol and navigates the joys and sorrows of everyday life with elegance, compassion, and a sly sense of humor. The influence of Montaigne is heavy in this book (Towles even suggests that a book of Montaigne's Essays is, quite literally, solid gold). Like Montaigne, the Count revels in the contradictions of life. With a twinkle in his eye, he maintains the capacity to experience moments childlike joy even in his highly constrained circumstances. Towles fits the entire universe into Rostov's hotel and we hardly notice his captivity - a remarkable literary accomplishment.

The audiobook narration is also fantastic. If you want to read more about Montaigne, I'd highly recommend one of my favorite books of 2017, Sarah Bakewell's biography, "How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer".