If there’s anything I love more than bookstores, it’s the people who work in them. And not just because they’re the people who put my books in people’s hands and say “I think you’ll like this.” Although I do like that about them, a lot. I like it just as much when they do the same thing to me. Take one of the folks at Left Bank Books. A couple years ago, when I was in the store to do the Authors as Booksellers day thing, a woman named Danielle picked up this book and said, “When you said you loved The Great Gatsby, I thought you might enjoy this.” And she was right. The Rules of Civility was a combination of Jazz-Age Fitzgerald meets Donna Tartt or Brett Easton Ellis.
On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar with her boardinghouse roommate stretching three dollars as far as it will go when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker with royal blue eyes and a tempered smile, happens to sit at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a yearlong journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool toward the upper echelons of New York society and the executive suites of Condé Nast–rarefied environs where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve.
Wooed in turn by a shy, principled multi-millionaire and an irrepressible Upper East Side ne’er-do-well, befriended by a single-minded widow who is a ahead of her time,and challenged by an imperious mentor, Katey experiences firsthand the poise secured by wealth and station and the failed aspirations that reside just below the surface. Even as she waits for circumstances to bring Tinker back into her life, she begins to realize how our most promising choices inevitably lay the groundwork for our regrets.
So, if your bookseller says she thinks you might like something, listen to her. She’s probably right.