The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles [9/10]

Who can forget the word-of-mouth bestseller A Gentleman in Moscow with its brilliant story and sparkling prose? Amor Towles’s debut, Rules of Civility, also pulsed with life. We have panted half a decade for Towles’s third novel, “The Lincoln Highway,” and the wait has been well worthwhile. A long, baggy story follows eighteen-year-old Emmet Watson, released in mid 1954 from a juvenile work farm. His mother long gone, his father recently released, Emmet sets out to drive himself and his eight-year-old brother Billy, in Emmet’s blue Studebaker, from their failed Nebraska farm to a fresh life in California. But two of his fellow inmates, the irrepressible Duchess and the oblique Wooly, escape and join him, and on the adjacent farm lives Sally. These five young souls, all different (and unforgettably voiced by the author), end up zooming west instead, to New York City, and the resulting plot careens wildly, although always under Towles’s flawless narrative grip. The novel is at once a life journey, a travelogue through the America of the fifties, a character study, and a morality fable. The author’s proses sparkles with jaunty, rhythmic authority and the dialogue is a constant delight. Surely one of the most unforgettable novels of 2021, The Lincoln Highway thrillingly captivates.

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