Ok I actually don’t think that, because I love witnessing those “true” gentlemen (AND of course “gentlewomen”) in real life. The ones who open the door for you when you’re carrying a heavy load. The kids who look you in the eye when talking to you. The teenagers who ask how they can help when they’re visiting your house. The ones who smile and wave you on when you make a dumb driving mistake. And oh, those ones standing their ground with all their might over in Ukraine.
But sometimes it does seem we are losing out on gentlemen and gentlewomen when we hear the “big voices” on social media.
Dave and I always talk about how the majority of our population is so good. So kind. So wanting the best for each other.
They are just more quiet than the ones who are making all the noise.
Pretty interesting to read as all the first news was coming out with Russia and Ukraine.
I loved it.
The main character, Alexander Ilyich Rostov, a Russian aristocrat, was so endearing. At the beginning of the book he is sentenced to house arrest to stay where he had been living at the Metropol Hotel for writing a poem believed to have revolutionary content. But he sees the glass half full rather than half empty. He lets the walls in his new residence expand him rather than close him off. He takes unlikely characters under his wing. He knows a little something about everything. He is kind. He is nurturing. Darling seems like kind of a silly word for a Russian aristocrat, but he really is just that in my mind.
Some favorite lines:
“A gentleman’s presence was best announced by his demeanor, not his clothing.”
Loved this part when he is explaining the qualities of a princess to his new young friend at the Metropol:
“A slouching posture tends to suggest a certain laziness of character, as well as lack of interest in others. Whereas an upright posture can confirm a sense of self-possession and a quality of engagement, both of which are befitting of a princess…a princess would be raised to show respect for her elders…elders of every social class.”
(So much of it reminds me of Brooke Romney’s AWESOME book 52 Modern Manners, which is SO GOOD…wrote some thoughts about it over HERE. If you don’t have it, do your whole family a favor and go get it over HERE.)
More quotes from A Gentleman in Moscow:
“A new generation owes a measure of respect the elders planted fields and fought in wars, they advanced the arts and sciences, and generally made sacrifices on our behalf, so by their efforts, however humble, they have earned a measure of our gratitude and respect.”
I LOVED the thoughts about the twice-chiming clock. Google that puppy to find out more because it’s such a cool thought.
About children growing up (you know I latch on to that stuff!):
“Alexander Rostov was neither scientist nor sage; but at the age of sixty-four he was wise enough to know that life does not proceed by leaps and bounds. It unfolds. At any given moment, it is the manifestation of a thousand transitions. Our faculties wax and wane, our experiences accumulate, and our opinions evolve- if not glacially, then at least gradually. Such that the events of an average day are as likely to transform who we are as a pinch of pepper is to transform a stew. And yet, for the Count, when the doors to Anna’s bedroom opened and Sofia stepped forward in her gown, at that very moment she crossed the threshold into adulthood. On one side of that divide was a girl of five or ten or twenty with a quiet demeanor and a whimsical imagination who relied upon him for companionship and counsel; while on the other side was a young woman of discernment and grace who need rely on no one but herself.”
Isn’t that just so beautifully said?
And perhaps my favorite part:
“I’ll tell you what is convenient, he said after a moment. To sleep until noon and have someone bring your breakfast on a tray, to cancel an appointment at the very last minute, to keep a carriage waiting at the door of one’s party so that in a moment’s notice it can whisk you away to another, to side-step marriage in your youth, and put off having children all together. These are the greatest of conveniences. And at one time I had them all. But in the end, it has been the inconveniences that have mattered to me most.”
“What matters in life is not whether we receive a round of applause. What matters is whether we have the courage to venture forth, despite the uncertainty of the claim.” (He was more proud of Sofia when she went out the door to the piano competition than he was for her to win.)
How do we keep these “most important” things at the top of our lists?
Anyway, I could go on and on, but wanted to share a few favorites from a new favorite book.
Other books I love:
(That one is perhaps my very favorite.)
Lots more favorites in the “favorite book” link on the tool bar at the top of this blog