Alexander, aka “The Count,” is a nobleman in Moscow at the time of the Russian Revolution. He manages to survive the purge, but is subjected to a sort of house arrest in his residence at the luxurious Metropol Hotel. He is exiled to a small attic room. Undaunted, he lives out a full life within the confines of the hotel, conferring his wisdom and opinions on food, wine, and pretty much everything else to the staff and visitors.
There’s nothing inherently objectionable in the book, but it just didn’t capture my interest. The writer seemed to have an obsession with food and drink, which wines pair with what, and that sort of thing. The Count is goodnatured but rather pretentious and condescending at times. At 719 pages (for the large print edition) it was way too long. Perhaps its biggest shortcoming, though, was the lack of a real plot. Rather, it is more like a book of fairy tales – individual small, very implausible, stories that are unrelated but always have a happy ending.