A Gentleman in Moscow

by Amor Towles

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In A Gentleman in Moscow, the count’s life under house arrest is greatly influenced by his relationship with Nina, Marina, Anna, and Sofia. What is the nature of the count’s relationship with each of these women?

In A Gentleman in Moscow, Anna is the count's friend, confidant, and lover. She provides input with the count's questions about raising Sofia and is instrumental in helping engineer their escape together. Sofia is his adopted daughter. He sacrifices for her to get her to safety. He befriends Nina when she is a precocious child. Nina leaves Sofia with him, illustrating her trust in him.

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The count’s life under house arrest becomes a microcosm for what is happening in the world at large outside the doors of the Metropol Hotel, where he is sentenced to reside for the remainder of his life. It would seem that his house arrest would be extremely restrictive, but he leads a surprisingly versatile and full life, in part because of his relationship with four women who are important to him.

Anna: Initially, Count Rostov's relationship with Anna Urabnova seems to be fairly superficial. She is a beautiful, famous star who stays at the Metropol when she visits Moscow. They spend the night together on these visits. Over time, however, the relationship develops, and the reader understands the important role she plays in the count’s life. This is more than a casual alliance. She provides important input when the count has questions about raising Sofia, his adopted daughter, and she is instrumental in helping him engineer the escape at the end of the book. She is also the woman he meets after he escapes the Metropol.

Nina: He befriends Nina when she is a precocious child. Nina leaves Sofia with him, illustrating her trust in him. Over time, her view of the Soviets evolves, in part reflecting his influence. Nina leaves her with him at the hotel for what she believes will be a brief period so that she can go to search for her husband, who has been imprisoned by the Soviets. When Nina never returns, presumably having been arrested by the Soviets herself, the count raises Sofia.

Sofia: Sofia, as noted, is the Count’s adopted daughter. In the scene where the women tailor a dress for Sofia to wear during her concert, he expresses the same horror at how low-cut and backless the dress is that any father would. He sacrifices for Sofia in order to get her to safety.

Marina: Marina is the seamstress in the Hotel Metropol. Initially, she is a friendly vendor whom the count frequents to keep his wardrobe fresh. Over time, they realize that they share sympathetic views of the situation in the country, and she becomes an important friend. He trusts Marina.

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