The atmosphere in this book feels very Russian (if you've read the classic russian writers) The situation of the main character is rather absurd (he has house arrest in a posh hotel and goes from Count to head waiter). Because of this weird backdrop, the full impact of Stalin dictarorship comes through a mild filter. I do not know whether that is a bad thing or not. It is a pleasant book to read.
This is the best book I've read in years. The main character is warm, inviting, thought-provoking, and full of joy. The setting is amazingly imaginative given the plot. And I came away truly believing there's a better way to go through life than our current cultural paradigm suggests. Inspiring and beautifully written, I savoured each chapter. I made a new friend. I saw the world differently. I was delighted to stay at the Metropole.