Table for Two by Amor Towles [7/10]

Following two stunning, warm-hearted novels, A Gentleman in Moscow and The Lincoln Highway, we Towles fans must now be kept patient by Table for Two, comprising six short stories (some presumably written years ago) set in New York and a novella “Eve in Hollywood.” The shorts are a mix of whimsical light pieces and city/domestic dramas. My favorite is “Hasta Luego,” in which a smooth New York consultant bumps into a bluff Californian salesman, resulting in late night drinking and the desperate efforts of one to save the other. I also enjoyed “The Didomenico Fragment,” a wry and spry story of generational inheritance and fine art. “The Bootlegger” starts as one tale—a husband on the trail of a bootlegger at a Carnegie Hall concert—and ends with the wife’s musical revelation. Read about a migrant from the Soviet Union in “The Line” and about antique book forgery in “The Ballad of Timothy Touchett.” But undoubtedly it’s the longish novella, “Eve in Hollywood,” starring sassy, scarred-yet-beautiful Eve from Towles’s earlier novel, Rules of Civility. Here Eve befriends movie star Olivia de Havilland, then deep into production of Gone With the Wind, and when a classic blackmail attempt hits Eve’s friend, she and a small cast of confederates move, in Chandleresque fashion, to sort out the mess. Towles uses a complex noir plot and his lithe, lively prose to craft a lovely mini classic. Overall, I’m unsure if I can recommend Table for Two to Amor Towles neophytes but if you have sunk into his two biggies, it will pleasurably remind you of novelistic pleasures still to come.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *