A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow

by

Amor Towles

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Nina Kulikova Character Analysis

One of the first friends the Count makes during his imprisonment in the hotel. At the start of the novel, Nina is a precocious nine-year-old who is obsessed with the aristocracy and the rules and etiquette of being a princess, which the Count is happy to explain to her. In return, Nina also helps alleviate some of the Count’s boredom, as she explores the hotel with him and shows him each back room and hidden passageway. She does so by way of a passkey that she has acquired, which she eventually gifts to him on Christmas. But gradually, as Nina grows older, she becomes more serious, more immersed in her schooling, and a very loyal Communist Party member. The Count watches her transformation with a kind of fatherly concern, as he hopes that she will not miss the joys of youth. At seventeen, she joins an agricultural planning committee and travels to Ivanovo to aid in agricultural collectivization. But when she sees millions of people starving as a result of the Party’s efforts, she and her new husband’s loyalty becomes tested. When her husband is arrested eight years later and sent to Siberia, she brings her five-year-old daughter Sofia to the Metropol, asking if the Count can watch her while she goes to find her husband. Unfortunately, Nina never returns, continuing the narrative pattern in which characters who are unable to accept the values of the new Russia become completely exiled from it.

Nina Kulikova Quotes in A Gentleman in Moscow

The A Gentleman in Moscow quotes below are all either spoken by Nina Kulikova or refer to Nina Kulikova. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Imprisonment, Freedom, and Purpose Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of A Gentleman in Moscow published in 2016.
Book 1, An Appointment Quotes

Ever since its opening in 1905, the hotel’s suites and restaurants had been a gathering spot for the glamorous, influential, and erudite; but the effortless elegance on display would not have existed without the services of the lower floor.

Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 1, Around and About Quotes

For if a room that exists under the governance, authority, and intent of others seems smaller than it is, then a room that exists in secret can, regardless of its dimensions, seem as vast as one cares to imagine.

Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 3, Arachne’s Art Quotes

With the slightest turn of the wrist the shards of glass tumble into a new arrangement. The blue cap of the bellhop is handed from one boy to the next, a dress as yellow as a canary is stowed in a trunk, a little red guidebook is updated with the new names of streets, and through Emile’s swinging door walks Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov—with the white dinner jacket of the Boyarsky draped across his arm.

Page Number: 176
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 3, Antics, Antitheses, an Accident Quotes

In the end, a parent's responsibility could not be more simple: To bring a child safely into adulthood so that she could have a chance to experience a life of purpose and, God willing, contentment.

Page Number: 309
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 5, Anecdotes Quotes

Looking back, it seems to me that there are people who play an essential role at every turn […] as if Life itself has summoned them once again to help fulfill its purpose. Well, since the day I was born, Sofia, there was only one time when Life needed me to be in a particular place at a particular time, and that was when your mother brought you to the lobby of the Metropol.

Related Characters: The Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov (speaker), Nina Kulikova, Sofia
Page Number: 420-421
Explanation and Analysis:
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Nina Kulikova Character Timeline in A Gentleman in Moscow

The timeline below shows where the character Nina Kulikova appears in A Gentleman in Moscow. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1, An Acquaintanceship
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
Chance, Luck, and Fate Theme Icon
...Count then notices a young girl in a yellow dress (who is later introduced as Nina) spying on him from her table. According to Vasily, she is the daughter of a... (full context)
Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
Nina questions the Count about his life as a count, and whether he has known any... (full context)
Chance, Luck, and Fate Theme Icon
The Count becomes more engaged with Nina, telling her a story about how a duel had begun in the lobby of the... (full context)
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
Nina interrupts the Count’s story, that Lensky was killed by Onegin in a duel. He finds... (full context)
Book 1, Anyway…
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
Five days later, Nina invites the Count for afternoon tea. As soon as the tea is poured, Nina begins... (full context)
Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
...tea, she graciously accepted the invitation, missing a ball at the Tushins in the process. Nina asks if the princess then married the old woman’s son. The Count assures her that... (full context)
Chance, Luck, and Fate Theme Icon
Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
The Count holds out the tea cakes for Nina, and she takes two. He tells her that princesses say please and thank you when... (full context)
Book 1, Around and About
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
On July 12, Nina catches the Count’s eye on the way to dinner, giving him a signal that they... (full context)
Imprisonment, Freedom, and Purpose Theme Icon
...July, while the Count is sitting in the lobby with nothing to do, he notices Nina zipping by. (full context)
Imprisonment, Freedom, and Purpose Theme Icon
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
The Count catches Nina and asks where she is headed. She reluctantly tells him the card room. When he... (full context)
Imprisonment, Freedom, and Purpose Theme Icon
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
...inner workings of the hotel. He has lived in the Metropol for four years, but Nina has had ten months of her own kind of confinement. Her father had not put... (full context)
Imprisonment, Freedom, and Purpose Theme Icon
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
To initiate the Count’s explorations, Nina starts in the basement. She shows him the furnace room—where one could destroy secret messages... (full context)
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
Nina and the Count opens the door to reveal the hotel’s silver service. From floor to... (full context)
Imprisonment, Freedom, and Purpose Theme Icon
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
In the following days, Nina leads the Count from room to room, including the hotel suites, as each room has... (full context)
Book 1, An Assembly
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
Nina is convincing the Count to join her on one of her favorite excursions: spying from... (full context)
Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
When the Assembly concludes, Nina and the Count crawl off the balcony. The Count is pleased to discover so many... (full context)
Book 1, Advent
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
...bit disappointed to find it undecorated for Christmas. He is cheered, however, when he sees Nina at her usual table, and that she has ordered a tower of ice creams for... (full context)
Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
The Count tells Nina that school will broaden her horizons; Nina counters by saying that travel would broaden her... (full context)
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
The Count moves on to say how fortunate he feels to have become Nina’s friend. He gives her a Christmas present: his grandmother’s opera glasses. She is surprised by... (full context)
Change and Adaptation Theme Icon
Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
After Nina leaves the Piazza, the Count notices a young couple at a table nearby who seem... (full context)
Change and Adaptation Theme Icon
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
...A Christmas Carol until the clock strikes twelve and he can open his present from Nina. The Count’s mind wanders to his youth as he remembers his Christmases as a child.... (full context)
Imprisonment, Freedom, and Purpose Theme Icon
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
 When the clock chimes midnight, the Count sets his book aside and opens Nina’s gift. Inside lies a smaller box, then another and another until the sixth box is... (full context)
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
Chance, Luck, and Fate Theme Icon
...reading of these visits, or perhaps by the chance meeting with the Prince, or by Nina’s friendship, he thinks. He falls asleep with a great sense of well-being. (full context)
Book 2, 1924, Anonymity
Imprisonment, Freedom, and Purpose Theme Icon
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
The Count asks Vasily where Nina is. He responds that she is in the card room, and the Count goes to... (full context)
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
The Count begins to help Nina, looking over her list. He points out that 1,173 is not a prime number because... (full context)
Imprisonment, Freedom, and Purpose Theme Icon
Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
The Count leaves Nina to her work and decides to read the paper before his dinner with Mishka, but... (full context)
Book 2, 1926, Adieu
Imprisonment, Freedom, and Purpose Theme Icon
Change and Adaptation Theme Icon
...everything seems in order, and leaves. He returns to the lobby and asks Vasily about Nina’s whereabouts; Vasily responds that Nina is in the ballroom. (full context)
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
Chance, Luck, and Fate Theme Icon
Now thirteen, Nina has given up many of her favorite pastimes in exchange for books and professors. When... (full context)
Change and Adaptation Theme Icon
...hiring inexperienced waiters at the Boyarsky has continued, Marina now has a junior seamstress, and Nina is moving with her father to an apartment for Party officials. Mishka had followed Katerina... (full context)
Book 3, Arachne’s Art
Change and Adaptation Theme Icon
Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
The Count realizes that the young woman is Nina (due to her lack of thanks). He is delighted to see her. Nina tells the... (full context)
Chance, Luck, and Fate Theme Icon
As the Count sews, he mentions to Marina that he ran into Nina. He tells Marina that Nina is still self-assured, passionate, and curious, but that she seems... (full context)
Book 3, Absinthe
Imprisonment, Freedom, and Purpose Theme Icon
Chance, Luck, and Fate Theme Icon
...He thinks about the day he has had, and how Marina had been right about Nina. In stories, Death often lurks in the shadows and waits to pay a visit. But... (full context)
Book 3, Addendum
Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
The same morning that the Count looks for Mishka’s letter, Nina and her comrades board a train headed for Ivanovo in order to help increase agricultural... (full context)
Change and Adaptation Theme Icon
Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
A footnote states that Nina and many other young loyalists would have their faith in the Party tested by what... (full context)
Chance, Luck, and Fate Theme Icon
But at the time, when Nina’s train arrives in the fields of Ivanovo, she is overwhelmed by the beauty of the... (full context)
Book 3, 1938, An Arrival
Change and Adaptation Theme Icon
Bolshevism and Class Struggle Theme Icon
...in the lobby, because it is so warm out even at seven o’clock at night. Nina then arrives unexpectedly, now twenty-five years old. She quickly explains that her husband had been... (full context)
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
The Count and Nina cross the lobby to where Sofia is sitting. Nina introduces Sofia to the Count and... (full context)
Imprisonment, Freedom, and Purpose Theme Icon
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
...knows that he would have agreed to it no matter what, because his friendship with Nina has been so valuable to him. The Count takes Sofia upstairs to the attic. Once... (full context)
Book 3, Ascending, Alighting
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
...of worries keeps him awake. He is worried about Mishka’s battle with the editor, about Nina and her journey east, and about Sofia. He is concerned that some bureaucrat will become... (full context)
Change and Adaptation Theme Icon
The narrator states that the Count is also probably right to worry about Nina, for she will never return to the Metropol. The Count will try to contact her... (full context)
Book 4, 1950, Adagio, Andante, Allegro
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
...also thinks about how he had presumed that she would be a dark-haired version of Nina when she grew up, but in fact she is very different in demeanor. Where her... (full context)
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
...she conveys so much heartache in her playing; Sofia tells him that she thinks of Nina, and how her memories of her mother seem to be fading. The Count tells Sofia... (full context)
Book 5, 1954, Applause and Acclaim
Imprisonment, Freedom, and Purpose Theme Icon
Friendship, Family, and Love Theme Icon
The Count then tells another story about the Christmas that he celebrated with Nina in 1922. He tells Sofia about her mother’s argument that if one wished to broaden... (full context)