The Lincoln Highway #5 this week
The best-selling author of A Gentleman in Moscow and Rules of Civility and master of absorbing, sophisticated fiction returns with a stylish and propulsive novel set in 1950s America
In June 1954, 18-year-old Emmett Watson is driven home to Nebraska by the warden of the juvenile work farm where he has just served 15 months for involuntary manslaughter. His mother long gone, his father recently deceased, and the family farm foreclosed upon by the bank, Emmett’s intention is to pick up his eight-year-old brother Billy and head to California, where they can start their lives anew. But when the warden drives away, Emmett discovers that two friends from the work farm have hidden themselves in the trunk of the warden’s car. Together, they have hatched an altogether different plan for Emmett’s future, one that will take them all on a fateful journey in the opposite direction – to the city of New York.
Spanning just 10 days and told from multiple points of view, Towles’ third novel will satisfy fans of his multilayered literary styling while providing them an array of new and richly imagined settings, characters, and themes.
Okay, maybe not for everyone.
Love it or leave it.
I loved it…maybe not the ending so much, but…
From the author for whom most absolutely loved A Gentleman in Moscow, I had no preconceptions, this being my first experience with his books. But I was hooked almost immediately, and then like a mosquito attracted to a red shirt and unprotected skin, I listened with rapt attention to each POV.
It’s 1954, Emmett gets out of work camp early on a family release (his dad passed away) and he’s eager to see his little (8?? year old) brother and leave the old family farm. Nothing left there—indeed—the bank owns it now. Unfortunately, two buddies from Salina stow away in the trunk of the car which takes Emmett home and they have their own ideas what to do with freedom and it isn’t the same as Emmetts’.
Then he discovers Billie is sure he’s figured out where their mother went when she abandoned them and it’s also in the opposite direction of his goal. Who wins the direction out the Lincoln Highway is where the storyline takes us.
The boys are still young, naïve, really no street smarts (except Duchess) although the author would have us believe Billie is gifted, smart, self-taught, and immediately takes a liking to Wooly. Wooly is the product of a very wealthy family. But as smart as Billie is—Wooly isn’t. Wooly, in fact, might be a bit slow and easily manipulated.
Wooly has divulged a secret stash of $150k in the family’s mountain cabin to Duchess. He wants it and easily steals Emmett’s Studebaker. Emmett and Billie resort to a plan to ride the rails to New York to recover their car and in the process are befriended by Ulysses. I loved the character of Ulysses, my heart broke for Emmett, pushed disbelief for the precocious Billie, and railed against Duchess.
But there is much to learn about each of the characters and as the tale winds around each to divulge backstories, sympathies take a subtle change of heart and brings to the reader their flaws and a new understanding of the person within the façade.
It’s a heart-rending story, filled with prose, philosophical observations, revelations of our country in the 50s and as the tension rose, it swung almost angrily into the conclusion.
And I was crushed.
The rug pulled out from under my feet.
I was sure there could have been other ways to resolve the problems of the four going forward. Indeed, it looked like there might have been. But that’s not what happened.
Certainly, a book whose characters have been brought to life. A difficult conclusion to accept and a story that reverberates for some time. Did you read, listen to this book? Did the climax unhinge you as well? How did you feel about Emmett?
Genre: Coming of Age Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Listening Length: 16 hrs 39 mins
Narrator: Edoardo Ballerini, Marin Ireland, Dion Graham
Publication Date: October 5, 2021
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Lincoln Highway [Amazon]
Barnes & Noble
Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars
The Author: Amor Towles is the author of New York Times bestsellers RULES OF CIVILITY and A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW. The two novels have collectively sold more than four million copies and have been translated into more than thirty languages. His new novel, THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY, will be released on October 5, 2021. His short stories have appeared in The Paris Review, Granta, and Vogue. Having worked as an investment professional for more than twenty years, Towles now devotes himself fulltime to writing in Manhattan, where he lives with his wife and two children.
©2022 V Williams
Thank you to my local well-stocked library for my audiobooks and to Lynne @fictionophile for letting me know it was #LibraryLoversMonth