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The Lincoln Highway

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The bestselling 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, eighteen-year-old Emmett Watson is driven home to Nebraska by the warden of the work farm where he has just served a year for involuntary manslaughter. His mother long gone, his f The bestselling 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, eighteen-year-old Emmett Watson is driven home to Nebraska by the warden of the work farm where he has just served a year 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 and head west 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. Spanning just ten days and told from multiple points of view, Towles’s third novel will satisfy fans of his multi-layered literary styling while providing them an array of new and richly imagined settings, characters, and themes.


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The bestselling 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, eighteen-year-old Emmett Watson is driven home to Nebraska by the warden of the work farm where he has just served a year for involuntary manslaughter. His mother long gone, his f The bestselling 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, eighteen-year-old Emmett Watson is driven home to Nebraska by the warden of the work farm where he has just served a year 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 and head west 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. Spanning just ten days and told from multiple points of view, Towles’s third novel will satisfy fans of his multi-layered literary styling while providing them an array of new and richly imagined settings, characters, and themes.

30 review for The Lincoln Highway

  1. 4 out of 5

    Yun

    After loving the author's previous two books, one of which is an all-time favorite of mine, no one's more surprised than me that I didn't end up loving The Lincoln Highway. Emmett has just been released from a juvenile detention facility after serving time for involuntary manslaughter. Now that his father has passed away and he no longer has family in town, he plans to pick up his little brother and drive along the Lincoln Highway to California so that they can start anew. But his carefully laid After loving the author's previous two books, one of which is an all-time favorite of mine, no one's more surprised than me that I didn't end up loving The Lincoln Highway. Emmett has just been released from a juvenile detention facility after serving time for involuntary manslaughter. Now that his father has passed away and he no longer has family in town, he plans to pick up his little brother and drive along the Lincoln Highway to California so that they can start anew. But his carefully laid plans fall by the wayside when his friends show up and force him to embark on a different journey altogether. I hate to say it, but this book confused me. I thought Emmett was our protagonist, and I was all ready to cheer him on as he did whatever he needed to do to start a new life, mainly by driving along the Lincoln Highway (hence the name of the book, right?). But this must be a case of mismatched expectations because Emmett wasn't the actual focus of this book and he didn't drive along that namesake road. Emmett is but one character out of many in this book, and he shares equal limelight with them all. Each of these characters has their points of view and ample time in the book, filled with their corresponding backgrounds and narratives. But the issue is that the tales of these side characters are not vital to the story. You can just cut out their turns and still have essentially the same story overall. So to include them made the whole thing feel bloated and unfocused. It doesn't help that a bunch of the side characters kept clowning around and getting up to shenanigans throughout the entire book. It almost feels like slapstick comedy, where outrageous things happen just for some laughs. This was especially odd because a lot of the notable events in here were people getting beat up or killed. But there was this incongruous, jokey tone permeating those scenes that didn't really go with whatever horrible event was happening. That isn't to say this was all bad. I still enjoyed Towles's writing, even if I didn't really connect with the story. He always includes these little bits of wisdom coated in humor, and I gobbled up the Greek mythology references in here, as well as the trip down memory lane to FAO Schwarz. Clearly Towles was paying homage to 1950s Americana, and he does well from the parts I could pick up. But in the end, I just wasn't the right audience for this book, and I hope other readers trying this will have better luck than I did. This was my Book of the Month pick for October. If you're curious about BOTM or want to find out how to get your first book for $5, click here.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dorie - Cats&Books :)

    ***NOW AVAILABLE, ONE OF MY TOP 10 BOOKS OF THE YEAR*** 5+++++ stars DO YOU WANT TO GO ON A ROAD TRIP???? The year is 1954 and our trip will take place along The Lincoln Highway. We’ll start in New York City and travel to the end in San Francisco. What you won’t know is how many different “side trips” and wonderful characters that you will encounter on your way. . Buckle up HERE WE GO!!!!!! READY TO MEET YOUR FELLOW TRAVELERS? Emmet Watson, age 18 is being driven to his home in Nebraska after having ***NOW AVAILABLE, ONE OF MY TOP 10 BOOKS OF THE YEAR*** 5+++++ stars DO YOU WANT TO GO ON A ROAD TRIP???? The year is 1954 and our trip will take place along The Lincoln Highway. We’ll start in New York City and travel to the end in San Francisco. What you won’t know is how many different “side trips” and wonderful characters that you will encounter on your way. . Buckle up HERE WE GO!!!!!! READY TO MEET YOUR FELLOW TRAVELERS? Emmet Watson, age 18 is being driven to his home in Nebraska after having been released from a juvenile work farm. Emmet’s mother has been absent for many years and now his father has passed away and the family home and failed farm are in foreclosure. Emmet will have sole custody of his younger brother Billy. He has come home to settle things and to pick up his brother and his car. He is ready to start life anew, out of Nebraska and headed West, Texas or California. Young Billy Watson has been waiting for his brother’s return for 18 months. He welcomes him with open arms!!!!!!! After their father died, a neighbor and friend watched Billy until Emmett was released. Billy is a curious little guy, super intelligent and with lots of love to share, he has some interesting tastes in books! His very favorite “big red book'' is something he keeps in his backpack at all times. “PROFESSOR ABACUS ABERNATHE’S COMPENDIUM OF HEROES, ADVENTURERS AND OTHER INTREPID TRAVELERS”. Given to him by the school librarian it is his most prized possession! Billy will read many stories to friends along the way!! As soon as the warden drives away, two of Emmet’s friends from the farm appear on his doorstep, having hidden in the back of the truck, they still have part of their “sentence” to complete. Duchess is a “wild and crazy” guy. He’s mostly kind hearted but has hatched a plan with Wooley that should get them all a lot of money. He’s an alcoholic and often not dependable. But when he sets his mind on something he will pursue it at all costs. Wooley, is a well intentioned friend and will do anything for those he cares about. He is estranged from his wealthy family. He will, however, inherit money from his grandfather when he turns 18. Wooley isn’t really that interested in the money, to him friendship and trust are more important. He is a somewhat troubled young man, always different from his peers, and often ignored by his family. He always felt like a PIECE OF A PUZZLE THAT DIDN'T FIT! I completely lost myself in this story. Mr. Towles is a master storyteller. While I enjoyed his prior books, this one is definitely my favorite. This novel and cast of characters drew me in. It is, of course, beautifully and meticulously written. At times a bit wordy, I loved how this group of adventurers continued to get side tracked to different places. THAT’S A LOT LIKE LIFE ITSELF!!! The characters are so real, I feel a little lost now that the book is over. I had to wait a day to write this review because I knew I would “gush” and I still have. This is a book that I would love to put into everyone’s hands! It’s about family that we are born into and families that are “made” by a combination of the people we love. This is a quote from the novel “Wouldn’t it have been wonderful, thought Woolly, if everybody’s life was like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle. . . .one person’s life would just fit snugly in its very own, specially designed spot, and in so doing, would enable the whole intricate picture to become complete”. Is that not a beautiful quote? This novel is set to publish on October 5, 2021. I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher and author through Edelweiss. ,

  3. 4 out of 5

    Swaroop

    It is important to read this if you have triggers >> *Content/Trigger - (view spoiler)[Suicide (hide spoiler)] -- My second Towles! "But sometimes a man's bad luck becomes too great to surmount, no matter how much time you give him." "Me, I love surprises. I love it when life pulls a rabbit out of a hat. Like when the blue plate special is turkey and stuffing in the middle of May. But some people just don't like being caught off guard - even by good news." "In a way, the whiskey bottle was sort of It is important to read this if you have triggers >> *Content/Trigger - (view spoiler)[Suicide (hide spoiler)] -- My second Towles! "But sometimes a man's bad luck becomes too great to surmount, no matter how much time you give him." "Me, I love surprises. I love it when life pulls a rabbit out of a hat. Like when the blue plate special is turkey and stuffing in the middle of May. But some people just don't like being caught off guard - even by good news." "In a way, the whiskey bottle was sort of like a pencil with an eraser - with one end used for saying things, and the other for taking them back." Wonderful, vivid, brilliant prose and heartfelt writing with interesting characters, yet somewhere deep down the storyline felt slightly disconnected… The ‘disconnection’ could be firstly because of the expectations after my first Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow, and secondly the title of this book, The Lincoln Highway. The story is in some ways about The Lincoln Highway, but just a wee bit. It is more about the people, the lives, the characters. Before anyone asks the question, I agree that A Gentleman in Moscow, one of my favourite books, is not about Moscow, and it was clear from the start that the story would be about a gentleman. But, here, it is otherwise. And, no I am not complaining at all. I am just venting out because my heart wanted much more and never wanted this life to end… ”—Well, that’s life in a nutshell, ain’t it. Lovin’ to go to one place and havin’ to go to another.” It has been an absolute pleasure reading this book, learning about the interesting characters and their lives, attitudes, fears, dreams and hopes! Thank you, Amor Towles!! -- 🚗 The book - The Lincoln Highway Set in Kansas in the 1950s, this is the story of 18-year-old Emmett Watson, his brother Billy and a few friends and strangers. After being released from a work facility where he was serving sentence for involuntary manslaughter, Emmett, who has recently lost his father and also his home and farm, decides to go on a road trip along with his brother. However, things don't go as planned, as two of Emmett`s friends from the facility decide to ‘borrow’ his Studebaker. Emmett is forced to postpone their road trip plan and now decide to get on a freight train in pursuit of the friends to get back their car. Introducing, Emmett Watson - "Most people need a ladder and a telescope to make sense of two plus two. That’s why it’s usually more trouble than it’s worth to explain yourself. But not Emmett Watson. He’s the type of guy who can see the whole picture right from the word go—the grander scheme and all the little details.” "Emmett was raised to hold no man in disdain. To hold another man in disdain, his father would say, presumed that you knew so much about his lot, so much about his intentions, about his actions both public and private that you could rank his character against your own without fear of misjudgment.” Emmett`s room - "While there was a chip in the plaster where a nail had once been lodged, there were no pictures hanging, no posters or pennants. There was no radio or record player. And while there was a curtain rod above the window, there were no curtains. If there had been a cross on the wall, it could well have been the cell of a monk.” Here's Sally Ransom - ”I do it because it’s time‑ consuming. I do it because it’s old‑ fashioned. And I do it because it’s unnecessary. Just because something’s new doesn’t mean it’s better; and often enough, it means it’s worse. Saying please and thank you is plenty old‑fashioned. Getting married and raising children is old‑ fashioned. Traditions, the very means by which we come to know who we are, are nothing if not old‑ fashioned.” We will also meet - -Billy Watson -Duchess -Woolly Whenever Woolly arrived at one of the places on the List, he always had the same threefold response. First, was a sense of awe. For these were not your run‑of‑the‑ mill stopping spots. They were big and elaborate and fashioned from all sorts of impressive materials like marble and mahogany and lapis lazuli. Second, was a sense of gratitude toward his forebears since they had gone to all the trouble of handing down this itemization from one generation to the next. But third and most important, was a sense of relief—a relief that having dropped his bags at his hotel and dashed across the city in the back of a taxi, Woolly could check one more item off the List. -Ulysses -Professor Abacus Abernathe -Sarah -the yellow Studebaker (“the yellow of a hornet”) and, -the Empire State Building -- 🚕 The highway - The Lincoln Highway —It was the first highway to cross America. The Lincoln Highway is America's First Transcontinental Highway. [Route map of the Lincoln Highway, wikipedia.org] [Mr. Carl Fisher, wikipedia.org] Originally thought of and planned, in 1912, by an automobile entrepreneur, Mr Carl G. Fisher, the highway was named after Abraham Lincoln and it was the very first road to stretch from one end of America to the other. Mr Fisher built the first section in 1913 in DeKalb, Illinois, with the help of donations. The contributors included US presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, and also the inventor Thomas Edison. The highway starts in Times Square in New York City and ends 3,389 miles away in Lincoln Park in San Francisco. -- 📝 Quotes and notes of the brilliant prose: ========== The willingness to take a beating: That’s how you can tell you’re dealing with a man of substance. ========== All I had was a crack in the plaster that turned a lazy curve around the ceiling lamp. But at the end of a long day, maybe a crack in the plaster is all you need to trigger fanciful thoughts. ========== In the course of our lives, she had said, we may do wrong unto others and others may do wrong unto us, resulting in the aforementioned chains. But another way to express the same idea was that through our misdeeds we put ourselves in another person’s debt, just as through their misdeeds they put themselves in ours. And since it’s these debts—those we’ve incurred and those we’re owed—that keep us stirring and stewing in the early hours, the only way to get a good night’s sleep is to balance the accounts. ========== The funny thing about a story is that it can be told in all sorts of lengths. ========== There is a time in every man`s education when he arrives at the convication that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of gold, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried. ========== What would be absotively magnificent? —A one‑of‑a‑kind kind of day. ========== Time is that which God uses to separate the idle from the industrious. For time is a mountain and upon seeing its steep incline, the idle will lay down among the lilies of the field and hope that someone passes by with a pitcher of lemonade. What the worthy endeavor requires is planning, effort, attentiveness, and the willingness to clean up. ========== For what is kindness but the performance of an act that is both beneficial to another and unrequired? For kindness begins where necessity ends. ========== Los Angeles, I thought to myself, where it’s summer all winter long, every waitress is a starlet in the making, and the street names have long since run out of presidents and trees. ========== The trees were in leaf, the bushes in bloom, and the daisies sprouting up on both sides of the path. ========== The problem, from Woolly’s point of view, the problem with Manhattan was that it was so terribly permanent. What with its towers made of granite and all the miles of pavement stretching as far as the eye can see. Why, every single day, millions of people went pounding along the sidewalks and across the marble‑ floored lobbies without even putting a dent in them. To make matters worse, Manhattan was absotively filled with expectations. There were so many expectations, they had to build the buildings eighty stories high so they would have enough room to stack them one on top of the other. ========== What a strange and beautiful sight, thought Woolly. The city of New York silent, motionless, and virtually uninhabited, sitting perfectly idle, without the hum of a single expectation for the very first time since its founding. ========== —Took a chance? I said. No chance was taken here today, my friends. The chance was given. ========== If the story was worth reading again, it was worth reading word for word. ========== And grandma would make us eat our sandwiches before we ate the cakes. —You have to climb your way to heaven. ========== They say the Lord answers all prayers, it’s just that sometimes he answers no. ========== at some level we must believe that what we are going through has never been experienced quite as we have experienced it. ========== A man’s home may be his castle, but the moat, it seems to me, is just as good at keeping people in as it is at keeping people out. ========== I do believe that the Good Lord has a mission for each and every one of us—a mission that is forgiving of our weaknesses, tailored to our strengths, and designed with only us in mind. But maybe He doesn’t come knocking on our door and present it to us all frosted like a cake. Maybe, just maybe what He requires of us, what He expects of us, what He hopes for us is that—like His only‑ begotten Son—we will go out into the world and find it for ourselves. ========== if everybody’s life was like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle. Then no one person’s life would ever be an inconvenience to anyone else’s. It would just fit snugly in its very own, specially designed spot, and in so doing, would enable the whole intricate picture to become complete. -- 📖 Few of the interesting words: Posited. Contiguously. Incontrovertibly Conflagration. Befuddlement. Vaudeville. Betwixt. Absotively. Tureen. Yakking. Prognosticating. Unknowables. Diaphanous. Fortuitous. Divvied. Sophistry. Contrite. Tattles. Contrition. Peripatetic. Omnifarious. 🌱 Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar. Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice. Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment. And this above all: to thine own self be true. For then it must follow, as night follows day, that thou cannot be false to any man. Farewell!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Angela M

    I’ve been writing short reviews these last couple of months, but I knew at some point a book would come along and I’d be compelled to say more about it than just a few sentences. ******** I thought I was going on an adventure across the country on the Lincoln Highway, but I found myself on a journey of the heart with these characters, looking for “fresh starts “, each of them discovering who they are, how they fit into this world, each one having been abandoned in one way or another, each one risi I’ve been writing short reviews these last couple of months, but I knew at some point a book would come along and I’d be compelled to say more about it than just a few sentences. ******** I thought I was going on an adventure across the country on the Lincoln Highway, but I found myself on a journey of the heart with these characters, looking for “fresh starts “, each of them discovering who they are, how they fit into this world, each one having been abandoned in one way or another, each one rising up to meet their fate, trying to make amends. They don’t actually cross the country from New York to California in 1954, but take a detour from farm country in Nebraska to New York City (and what an ode to New York City ! ). Three teenage boys, one just released from a juvenile work farm, two who have escaped, are flawed and well meaning, trying to do the right thing. And oh my heart, the eight year old brother of the first boy, who is precocious, yet sweet in his naïveté and belief in heroes. It’s about heroes, too, not just the ones in the book that Billy carries with him, but these unforgettable characters who are heroes in their own right to each other in some way, along with some other characters who I was touched by. I loved everything about this novel - the seamless way that Towles takes his readers to a time and place, the way he bridges that connection between fiction and life. He’s an extraordinary storyteller. Despite its length, I didn’t want it to end, didn’t want to leave these characters whose journeys reflect love and friendship, sadness and joy and are filled with the stuff that life is made of. As always a pleasure to read with Diane and Esil.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    Another winner from the talent that is Mr Amor Towles . It’s June 1954, and 18 year old Emmett Watson is being driven home by Warden Williams after serving time in a Kansas youth facility. Emmett has to tie up his late father’s estate, and then he and his little brother Billy will be leaving town for a fresh start in life. Emmett and Billy have different ideas about which direction they should head - Billy wants to follow the Lincoln Highway, where their mother, (who walked out on the family many Another winner from the talent that is Mr Amor Towles . It’s June 1954, and 18 year old Emmett Watson is being driven home by Warden Williams after serving time in a Kansas youth facility. Emmett has to tie up his late father’s estate, and then he and his little brother Billy will be leaving town for a fresh start in life. Emmett and Billy have different ideas about which direction they should head - Billy wants to follow the Lincoln Highway, where their mother, (who walked out on the family many years ago) is thought to be living. Emmett wants to follow wherever the work is, however, much to Emmett’s surprise, Duchess and Wooly, who are still supposed to be serving time in the facility where Emmett was, have managed to secrete themselves in the trunk of Warden William’s car, and are intent on a road trip of their own! What follows is madness and mayhem, but what a journey! What an inventive and absorbing read this is. The characters are wonderful - all memorable in their own special way, the storyline is just an escapade full of humour and joy, not to mention some moving scenes thrown in for good measure. Can’t praise it enough! *Thank you to Netgalley and Random House UK Cornerstone for an arc in exchange for an honest unbiased review*

  6. 4 out of 5

    Paromjit

    Amor Towles spins a beguiling and rollicking historical adventure set in the 1950s, brilliantly imaginative, and with an unforgettable cast of characters, ostensibly about a Lincoln Highway road trip to California that keeps gets derailed. 18 year old Emmet Watson is a surprisingly composed and mature young man, who arrives back home to Morgen, Nebraska, after serving a sentence for involuntary manslaughter at a juvenile work farm in Salina. His unsuccessful farmer father has died, debts mean th Amor Towles spins a beguiling and rollicking historical adventure set in the 1950s, brilliantly imaginative, and with an unforgettable cast of characters, ostensibly about a Lincoln Highway road trip to California that keeps gets derailed. 18 year old Emmet Watson is a surprisingly composed and mature young man, who arrives back home to Morgen, Nebraska, after serving a sentence for involuntary manslaughter at a juvenile work farm in Salina. His unsuccessful farmer father has died, debts mean their family farm has been foreclosed upon by the bank. None of this is a shock to Emmet, he has planned for new beginnings, to pick up his 8 year old brother, Billy, driving in his 1948 Studebaker, to start a more secure future in California, where it appears their mother went after abandoning them years ago. However, two of his friends, Duchess and Wooley, from Salena have escaped, hiding in the car that Emmet was driven home in by the warden, and they have other more immediate ideas of going to New York. Duchess is a good, if frustrating, man, but his ideas and misguided good intentions fail to take account of the consequences of his actions, he seeks to balance the scales of justice in his life, which includes taking a beating that he feels he deserves. Wooley is a dreamer, out of sync with the world and his wealthy family's expectations, requiring medication for his condition, looking for a one of a kind day rather than the normal every day kind of days, he has access to money that could set all of them for the new lives they all dream of. So begin a series of adventures, where Billy's precious book, Professor Abernathe's Compendium is key, including a thrilling freight train journey to New York, taking in a circus, the Empire State Building and so much more. They encounter a memorable set of characters on their oddyssey, including the Great Ulysses in search of his wife and child, a villainous Pastor John, Wooley's sister, Sarah, and are joined by the remarkable Sally from Nebraska. Towles vibrant storytelling is spellbinding, oozing with a sense of magical wonder, with its echoes of ancient myths, legends and heroes, brought to life in 1950s America. This is a beautiful, multilayered read, of life, brothers, love, friendship, the spirit of adventure, misfits that a world struggles to accommodate, and the heartbreak of tragedy. I adored young Billy, wise beyond his years, with his heart of gold and simplicity that cuts through what might be thought of as logical and normal. A superb novel that I recommend highly, a wonderful must read. Many thanks to the publisher for an ARC.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Audiobook….read by Edoardo Ballerini, Marin Ireland, Dion Graham …..16 hours and 39 minutes Being a… ….HUGE FAN of “A Gentleman in Moscow” and “Rules of Civility”… I was excited as any other fan to dive into Towles third novel. However … “The Lincoln Highway” wasn’t my cup of tea. Great beginning… But…. as the story moved along, the adventures and stories grew tiresome to me. I grew tired of Billy’s young voice. His zealous fervent perky-curiosity became annoying and laborious to me. I wasn’t a fan Audiobook….read by Edoardo Ballerini, Marin Ireland, Dion Graham …..16 hours and 39 minutes Being a… ….HUGE FAN of “A Gentleman in Moscow” and “Rules of Civility”… I was excited as any other fan to dive into Towles third novel. However … “The Lincoln Highway” wasn’t my cup of tea. Great beginning… But…. as the story moved along, the adventures and stories grew tiresome to me. I grew tired of Billy’s young voice. His zealous fervent perky-curiosity became annoying and laborious to me. I wasn’t a fan of many of the devious-clownish characters. I didn’t care for theatrical stories of Hercules, Galileo, Edison, or other imperial dramaturgic tales. I didn’t want a Shakespeare lesson — I had no interest in the sailboat stories… or… Heroes of legends Sorcery and enchantment intervention of the Gods … or… Toys in FOA Schwarz…. or… lessons on how to make strawberry jam or pie… I didn’t mesh with some of the quirkiness-‘words-of- wisdom’ slants… Example: “When a piano falls out of the window and lands on a persons head there’s a good chance he’ll understand why he deserved it”. Plenty of repetitiveness, too. How many times did I need to hear about the nine postcards? Sometimes I felt that had Towles written this as a middle school children’s book -it could have been brilliant- but as an adult book mixed with childish stories - it just didn’t work for me. I didn’t care for the mischievous humor-satire-ish-thriller-ish….book that this was. That said… Amor Towles is an eloquent -talented writer/storyteller. I admire him - and seriously loved his past two novels. “The Lincoln Highway” had powerful underline messages about human behaviors which were heartfelt— but the adventurous-packaging that they came in was too fatiguing to me. 2 star-personal enjoyment….(I don’t like sour cream either), — so this is just a personal preference review…. not a slam on the author whatsoever. 4 stars for Amor Towles eloquent skills. Rounding out my final rating to 3 stars.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Still catching up on books I finished this spring. My apologies. THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY is a gem. I adored Amor Towles's first two novels, and I savored every moment of this one. It's 1954, and three young men and a boy are on the adventure of their lives, traveling between the Midwest and Manhattan and the Adirondacks, and while there are meticulous reasons for their incredible journey, what makes this masterpiece work are each of the characters. They have their scars and their demons and their ec Still catching up on books I finished this spring. My apologies. THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY is a gem. I adored Amor Towles's first two novels, and I savored every moment of this one. It's 1954, and three young men and a boy are on the adventure of their lives, traveling between the Midwest and Manhattan and the Adirondacks, and while there are meticulous reasons for their incredible journey, what makes this masterpiece work are each of the characters. They have their scars and their demons and their eccentricities. Two you will want to take under your wing and adopt; one will leave you uneasy; and one just might have in him the stuff of heroism. All of them you will care about deeply. I savored this book: every page.

  9. 4 out of 5

    jessica

    holy cow. this roadtrip is a nightmare. everything that can go wrong, does. all because of duchess, who is one of the most unenjoyable characters to read about in the history of books. and honestly, this is probably closer to a 2 star read, but the relationship between emmett and his younger brother, billy, deserves so much better than that. and its such a tremendous shame that too many other POVs take away from this amazing brotherly bond. i found nearly every character POV, other than emmetts, holy cow. this roadtrip is a nightmare. everything that can go wrong, does. all because of duchess, who is one of the most unenjoyable characters to read about in the history of books. and honestly, this is probably closer to a 2 star read, but the relationship between emmett and his younger brother, billy, deserves so much better than that. and its such a tremendous shame that too many other POVs take away from this amazing brotherly bond. i found nearly every character POV, other than emmetts, to be lacking and begging to be skimmed. with the exception of duchess and sometimes woolly, whose POVs do progress the plot, every other POV could be cut from the story without consequence. sure, they add some side stories but, for me, they just took away page time that could have been better spent on emmett and billy. the removal of these very distant side characters also would have helped with the long length and slow pacing. but gosh. again, i keep going back and thinking about emmett and billy. their connection is just too wholesome. i love their dynamic - emmetts cautious protection and billy innocent affection. they both steal whatever scene they are in and truly outshine all of the other characters. i easily could have read 600+ pages of just them and given it 5 stars. this also has some really great writing and storytelling with quintessential AT charm throughout. so its a shame that the story is bogged down by unlikeable and unnecessary characters. ↠ 3 stars

  10. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    A madcap adventure story, a fantastical story set in the fifties, a story about retribution, forgiveness missed connections, and peopled with some outstanding characters. An ode to reading, travel and the family we have, the family we make. Towels has the talent to entertain with his scenarios, to pull a reader into a time period, a situation, to make the unbelievable, believable and to entertain so well that almost 600 pages just flyby. These are characters that one doesn't easily forget, even A madcap adventure story, a fantastical story set in the fifties, a story about retribution, forgiveness missed connections, and peopled with some outstanding characters. An ode to reading, travel and the family we have, the family we make. Towels has the talent to entertain with his scenarios, to pull a reader into a time period, a situation, to make the unbelievable, believable and to entertain so well that almost 600 pages just flyby. These are characters that one doesn't easily forget, even what one would call minor characters are central to the plot. One in particular is very young, Billy, but at times it seems he has more belief and wisdom than his elders. I'm not quite sure I understand the ending but I intend soon to go back and re-read, and discussing with Angela and Esil will I'm sure aid in my endeavor. Another unforgettable story from Towles.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ceecee

    It’s June 12th 1954 and Warden Williams is taking eighteen year old Emmett Watson home from Salina, a juvenile reform program after which Emmett’s debt to society is paid in full. His father has died, his bank loans against it are called in and the farm is to be sold. His eight year old brother Billy shows him a map of the Lincoln Highway stretching east to west, their intention is to drive Emmett's 1948 Studebaker Land Cruiser westwards to San Francisco. However, best laid plans and all that, w It’s June 12th 1954 and Warden Williams is taking eighteen year old Emmett Watson home from Salina, a juvenile reform program after which Emmett’s debt to society is paid in full. His father has died, his bank loans against it are called in and the farm is to be sold. His eight year old brother Billy shows him a map of the Lincoln Highway stretching east to west, their intention is to drive Emmett's 1948 Studebaker Land Cruiser westwards to San Francisco. However, best laid plans and all that, when everything is thrown up in the air by the unexpected arrival of Duchess and Woolly from Salina. What transpires over the next ten days is very far from what the Watson brothers imagine especially as it becomes clear that Duchess and Emmett are on a collision course. The story is told from multiple points of view. What an adventure! It is no surprise that this is brilliantly written, it’s extremely creative, imaginative and so vivid. The characters are superbly crafted, they feel authentic and real and whilst three of them have erred there is an elegant yet simple morality to them , with Emmett being an especially good man. Billy for me is the stand out character, I just fall in love with his thoughtful yet simple approach to life, his sweetness, wisdom and intelligence and particularly how he is inspired and guided by Professor Abacus Abernathe’s Compendium of Heroes, Adventurers and other Intrepid Travellers. This is a key component of the novel and a great deal mirrors the compendium with a sense of it being prophetic. There ARE heroes, certainly adventurers, they meet intrepid travellers and on more than one occasion the book saves Billy and the rest of them. Their journey deviates, as does the storytelling but it does take you to some magical and fantastical places. At times the book is funny, at others it makes you uneasy and has shocks and surprises along the way. As the story meanders east before heading west ( you’ll have to read the book to find out why 😁) on occasions it feels like a madcap movie like a Chaplin or Keaton silent film caper which incidentally are mentioned in passing(!) with these scenes being especially delicious!! The dialogue is ‘absotively’ brilliant making you want to join in. As it reaches a conclusion it takes a darker turn, which I guess has been in the cards with the signs there for all to see. Overall, I think this is an excellent and original novel. The storytelling is lively, engaging, takes the reader on a wild ride as it twists and turns away from the brothers original intention and into some lively and unexpected situations. It’s a character driven study with all the facets of humankind on display, the good, the bad and the endearingly wonderful. With thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone for the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Anne (On semi-hiatus)

    It is hard for me to rate this book because I loved the first third and was extremely disappointed by the rest. While listening to the first 30% of this book I was so enamored with the writing and the characters I was sure that this novel was going to be my favorite book of the year. Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be. As soon as the boys hit the road toward the Lincoln Highway Amor Towles' brain was taken over by a much lesser writer who specializes in stories for teenage boys and loves tange It is hard for me to rate this book because I loved the first third and was extremely disappointed by the rest. While listening to the first 30% of this book I was so enamored with the writing and the characters I was sure that this novel was going to be my favorite book of the year. Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be. As soon as the boys hit the road toward the Lincoln Highway Amor Towles' brain was taken over by a much lesser writer who specializes in stories for teenage boys and loves tangents. Many new characters are introduced, none of whom grabbed my interest. The story lost momentum and I began to skip the chapters which were not narrated by the 2 main protagonists and Sally. I loved Sally. She had some of the best lines. After praying to God for months that her father will marry the woman he is dating and therefore have someone other than herself responsible for cooking and cleaning for him she is sorely disappointed when they stop dating. And she quips: "They say the lord answers all prayers ....but sometimes he answers 'no.'" I was shocked by the ending. Where did that come from? It changed the tone of the book from folksy, old fashioned story telling to... well, telling would be a spoiler. I loved Rules of Civility but nothing of Towles' since, including A Gentleman from Moscow. I know. I know. I tried to read it twice but it never captured my attention. I was definitely in the minority on "Gentlemen" just as I seem to be in the minority on The Lincoln Highway.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    I can’t tell you how excited I was that Amor Towles came out with a new book! And it’s a road trip!! The historic Lincoln Highway It's 1954, and 18 year old Emmett Watson has just finished serving time at a Kansas juvenile work farm for accidentally killing a boy who was bullying him. His mother abandoned their family years ago, and his father, a man haunted by his failure at farming, has just died, and the bank is poised to foreclose. Emmett doesn't mind losing his home because he's got a plan: p I can’t tell you how excited I was that Amor Towles came out with a new book! And it’s a road trip!! The historic Lincoln Highway It's 1954, and 18 year old Emmett Watson has just finished serving time at a Kansas juvenile work farm for accidentally killing a boy who was bullying him. His mother abandoned their family years ago, and his father, a man haunted by his failure at farming, has just died, and the bank is poised to foreclose. Emmett doesn't mind losing his home because he's got a plan: pack up his 8 y.o. brother Billy and start a new life in Texas. But "California," says Billy, certain that's where their long-lost mother is living. They can drive the Lincoln Highway to San Francisco and be there by the 4th of July. But as it turns out, neither Texas nor California is in their immediate future. Two of Emmett's friend from the work farm, Duchess and Woolly, broke out of the facility early and propose going the opposite way, to New York City, where Woolly's large inheritance is hidden in a family safe. If Emmett takes them there, Woolly will split the cash between the four of them. Emmett is determined to stay on the right side of the law and wants nothing to do with this plan, but things happen. Well, mostly Duchess — a clever, charming and utterly self-centered young man — happens. Duchess and Woolly take off to New York with Emmett's car (not to mention Emmett's cash hidden in the trunk), and Emmett, now destitute, decides to chase them down the only way he can think of. He and Billy stow away in an empty car of a freight train heading to New York City. Their adventure is just beginning. The Lincoln Highway is one of those books that got better and better the further I got into it. Amor Towles' (author of A Gentleman in Moscow) take on mid-20th century road trip is given such an original twist here, and Towles' gift for writing shines through and takes this novel to a whole new level. The boys' adventures are related with sympathy and insight.- Questions can be so tricky, he said, like forks in the road. You can be having such a nice conversation and someone will raise a question, and the next thing you know you’re headed off in a whole new direction. In all probability, this new road will lead you to places that are perfectly agreeable, but sometimes you just want to go in the direction you were already headed.The characters are also fascinating (with the possible exception of Woolly, who never felt quite real for me). I especially like — and hated — Duchess, an unreliable narrator whose charming exterior hides a darker core, and I loved Billy, a bright and occasionally unworldly boy (I think he may be on the moderate side of the spectrum, though it's never explicitly said). One of my favorite subplots of the book involves Billy's favorite book, Professor Abacus Abernathe's Compendium of Heroes, Adventurers and Other Intrepid Travelers. When Billy meets a black wanderer named Ulysses, it feels fateful, and Billy's love for literature and faith in Ulysses' story help change the paths of several lives, including that of the book's author.He too had watched as the outer limits of his life had narrowed from the world at large, to the island of Manhattan, to that book-lined office in which he awaited with a philosophical resignation the closing of the finger and thumb. And then this . . . This! This extraordinary turn of events. A little boy from Nebraska appears at his doorstep with a gentle demeanor and a fantastical tale. A tale not from a leather-bound tome, mind you . . . But from life itself. How easily we forget—we in the business of storytelling — that life was the point all along.Highly recommended! Bonus material: Towles talks about this book here on his website and gives some fascinating insights into the plot, why he chose this particular time in history for the setting, and the book's structure, including the reason why the book's sections count down for each day rather than usual method of counting up. Original post: I'm very proud of myself for catching this one on my library's online catalog before it was even on the shelf and putting in a hold. It's now in my hands! Hoping I'll love it as much as I did A Gentleman in Moscow.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cathrine ☯️

    5 🎒🎒🎒🎒🎒 592 pages and I miss each and every one of them. I want to start it over again.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cheri

    ’...for most people, it doesn’t matter where they live. When they get up in the morning, they’re not looking to change the world. They want to have a cup of coffee and a piece of toast, put in their eight hours, and wrap up the day with a bottle of beer in front of the TV set. More of less, it’s what they’d be doing whether they lived in Atlanta, Georgia, or Nome, Alaska. And if it doesn’t matter for most people where they live, it certainly doesn’t matter where they’re going. That’s what gave th ’...for most people, it doesn’t matter where they live. When they get up in the morning, they’re not looking to change the world. They want to have a cup of coffee and a piece of toast, put in their eight hours, and wrap up the day with a bottle of beer in front of the TV set. More of less, it’s what they’d be doing whether they lived in Atlanta, Georgia, or Nome, Alaska. And if it doesn’t matter for most people where they live, it certainly doesn’t matter where they’re going. That’s what gave the Lincoln Highway its charm. When you see the highway on a map, it looks like that Fisher guy Billy was talking about took a ruler and drew a line straight across the country, mountains and rivers be damned. In so doing, he must have imagined it would provide a timely conduit for the movement of goods and ideas from sea to shining sea, in a final fulfillment of manifest destiny. But everyone we passed just seemed to have a satisfied sense of their own lack of purpose.Let the road rise up to meet you, say the Irish, and that’s what was happening to the intrepid travelers on the Lincoln Highway. It was rising up to meet each and every one of them, whether they were headed east, headed west, or going around in circles.’ The Lincoln Highway reads like one of those long Sunday drives wandering here and there without a specific destination in mind, wandering to and fro... Until, that is, all the back roads it follows lead to one road which was your fate. Like The Long and Winding Road which leads to your door, the place where you end up even when it wasn’t your destination, but more like your destiny. It floats along, and we’re glad to be a part of the journey, even if we are only silently observing these characters, and the journeys - both physical and emotional - they are on. It has the adventure of Tom Sawyer, and the charm, as well as the relative innocence associated with the era which makes for a delicious combination. A sense of an almost magical journey that offers a wistfulness that gives a nod to that There’s no place like home essence of Dorothy’s journey, including the flying monkeys, with the wicked witch replaced by other nefarious characters in search of this story’s version of the ruby slippers, with the charm of Dorothy’s crew of the Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow and the Tin Man being found in the characters in the journey of The Lincoln Highway. Courage, heart and brains make up the ingredients for the magical spell this casts. Throw in a sprinkling of a few Marx brothers type moments for some laughs, as well. What made this seem both charming and believable was the sense of love, forgiveness and a hopeful confidence that the journey they embark on will come true, that sense of hope is at the heart of it all. A sense of believing in all those seemingly trite sayings that still seem to hold a ring of truth. Most of the characters in this, and there are many, seem imbued with that old school confidence and quirky charm, although there are exceptions. In order to appreciate the goodness of life, and protect it, we have to remember that there are others who would steal it, given the chance. A tale not from a leather bound tome, mind you. Not from an epic poem written in an unspoken language. Not from an archive or athenaeum. But from life itself. How easily we forget---we in the business of storytelling---that life was the point all along. A mother who has vanished, a father who has failed, a brother who is determined. A journey from the prairies into the city by means of a boxcar with a vagabond named Ulysses. Then to a railroad track suspended over the city as surely as Valhalla is suspended in the clouds.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Choo choo choo! That’s the sound of my disappointment train which suddenly left the town. With this ominous cue you may sense some very unpopular review is on its way! I’m not sure if it’s about my changing literary taste or dark winter mood, but lately I start showing less interest to highly appraised and five starred books! After seeing those high recommendations, I thought I would absolutely love this book from the author of Gentleman in Moscow! I have to admit: the beginning was so promisin Choo choo choo! That’s the sound of my disappointment train which suddenly left the town. With this ominous cue you may sense some very unpopular review is on its way! I’m not sure if it’s about my changing literary taste or dark winter mood, but lately I start showing less interest to highly appraised and five starred books! After seeing those high recommendations, I thought I would absolutely love this book from the author of Gentleman in Moscow! I have to admit: the beginning was so promising and gripping which made me think I found another five starred gem but… till the characters hit the road, everything has changed, things got repetitive, new characters were thrown into equation and I didn’t like them much. Actually I showed no interest to learn more about their stories. And that ending….should I say disappointed, abrupt, empty… I don’t know what adjective I may use to define the ending without giving spoilers. I think I was expecting something more than reading a story about teenage boys and tangerine obsession. The beginning was impressive. In 1954, at a juvenile work farm, Emmett Watson who served for fifteen months because of manslaughter is getting to be driven to his house in Nebraska. His father passed away and his mother is long gone so only he and his eight years old brother left. The bank is already planning to take over the family farm. So at young age, his plan to have fresh start is driving to California with his brother Billy. But unfortunately the warden’s car which will take him to his home is already taken over by two friends at friend and now they are both headed to Big Apple . After that point the story’s direction absolutely changed. And I didn’t enjoy it! Well, of course I’m not gonna give two stars !I really don’t want to get booed! ( it happened to me when I wrote my unpopular review to Cloud Cuckoo Land) I’m giving my solid three stars! I was expecting so much more but actually this book was definitely not for me!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    [3.7] A meandering, long-winded adventure with too many side stories. But the characters, especially Emmett and Billy, kept me reading. The novel moves along at a steady clip and I mostly enjoyed the ride. For me, The Lincoln HIghway falls in the middle of the three Towles' novels - better paced than A Gentleman from Moscow but disappointing compared to The Rules of Civility. [3.7] A meandering, long-winded adventure with too many side stories. But the characters, especially Emmett and Billy, kept me reading. The novel moves along at a steady clip and I mostly enjoyed the ride. For me, The Lincoln HIghway falls in the middle of the three Towles' novels - better paced than A Gentleman from Moscow but disappointing compared to The Rules of Civility.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Diane Barnes

    What do I say about this book? It contains a little bit of everything; drama, comedy, irony, mythology, red herrings, mystery, throw in a little bit of magic, and a large and very wonderful cast of characters. The four main ones: Emmett, the dependable guy everyone can depend on. Duchess, a wild card capable of anything. Wooley, the wisest slow-witted fellow you've ever met. And 8 year old Billy, no words to describe how intelligent and intuitive and kind he was, and in my opinion, the originator What do I say about this book? It contains a little bit of everything; drama, comedy, irony, mythology, red herrings, mystery, throw in a little bit of magic, and a large and very wonderful cast of characters. The four main ones: Emmett, the dependable guy everyone can depend on. Duchess, a wild card capable of anything. Wooley, the wisest slow-witted fellow you've ever met. And 8 year old Billy, no words to describe how intelligent and intuitive and kind he was, and in my opinion, the originator of all the action in this novel. Then there were the special peripheral characters. Sally, Ulysses, Professor Abacus Abernathe and his Compendium of Heroes, Adventurers, and Other Intrepid Travelers, and many others too numerous to mention. This is a road trip novel, and veers off into detours and side trips and takes us all over the place and into all sorts of situations. A lot of reviews complain about this fact and some readers give up entirely. All I can say is just put yourself in the capable hands of Amor Towles, ride along, and trust him to take you on a one-of-a-kind adventure. You'll be glad you persevered.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    I was really looking forward to this one following the excellent ‘Gentleman in Moscow’ but unfortunately it failed to grip me in the same way. Undoubtedly well written but I felt it generally dragged and failed to engage me. I have read many reviews that contradict my review but at the end of the day it is my personal opinion and nothing else. In June 1954, eighteen year old Emmett Watson is driven home to Nebraska by the warden of the juvenile work farm where he served fifteen months for involun I was really looking forward to this one following the excellent ‘Gentleman in Moscow’ but unfortunately it failed to grip me in the same way. Undoubtedly well written but I felt it generally dragged and failed to engage me. I have read many reviews that contradict my review but at the end of the day it is my personal opinion and nothing else. In June 1954, eighteen year old Emmett Watson is driven home to Nebraska by the warden of the juvenile work farm where he served fifteen months for involuntary manslaughter. His father has recently died and his mother left a long time ago so the family farm is about to be taken over by the bank. Emmett plans to head for California to start a new life with his eight year old brother Billy. Once the warden drives off, Emmett discovers that two friends from the farm have stowed away in the warden’s car and have very different plans regarding Emmett’s future. Together the four travel in the opposite direction and head for New York. Well written but too slow and unengaging. I would like to thank both Net Galey and Random House for supplying a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    Mixed feelings… There’s no question that Amor Towles is a very talented storyteller, however, this novel has reminded me of a quote from the story… “If you take a trait that by all appearances is a merit—a trait that is praised by pastors and poets, a trait that we have come to admire in our friends and hope to foster in our children—and you give it to some poor soul in abundance, it will almost certainly prove an obstacle to their happiness. Just as someone can be too smart for their own good, th Mixed feelings… There’s no question that Amor Towles is a very talented storyteller, however, this novel has reminded me of a quote from the story… “If you take a trait that by all appearances is a merit—a trait that is praised by pastors and poets, a trait that we have come to admire in our friends and hope to foster in our children—and you give it to some poor soul in abundance, it will almost certainly prove an obstacle to their happiness. Just as someone can be too smart for their own good, there are those who are too patient for their own good, or too hardworking.” This is about how I’m feeling. Towles is too good a writer for his own good in this one. It was well written, but overly written. There were too many unnecessary characters and too many philosophical moments. I’m still trying to figure out why all the characters? What purpose did they serve? Why include them as narrators only to leave their stories undeveloped. I, actually, think this would have been a great series. There were certainly enough interesting characters and side stories to work with. I wanted this to have stayed focused on the boys and less on the supporting characters. The ending, also, left me a lil disappointed… Wooly? He deserved more from the boys & I really didn’t buy their reactions. Overall, I enjoyed the adventure these boys took me on, but I think if it had been condensed, less wordy & with a smaller cast of characters, I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more. Listened to this on audio which was multi-narrated & very well done. 3.5 stars rounded up for the narration.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Toni

    Emmett Watson was honest and straight-forward, but he did have a bit of a temper. His younger brother, Billy had convinced him to count to ten before he let his anger get the better of him. Emmett wished he knew about this before he let Jimmy Synder goad him into getting so mad that he swung without thinking and hit him so hard he fell back and hit his head on a cinderblock holding down a tentpole. Jack laid in the hospital a whole week before he died, and Emmett knew he’d have to pay the conseq Emmett Watson was honest and straight-forward, but he did have a bit of a temper. His younger brother, Billy had convinced him to count to ten before he let his anger get the better of him. Emmett wished he knew about this before he let Jimmy Synder goad him into getting so mad that he swung without thinking and hit him so hard he fell back and hit his head on a cinderblock holding down a tentpole. Jack laid in the hospital a whole week before he died, and Emmett knew he’d have to pay the consequences. They called it involuntary manslaughter and since he was under eighteen, they sent him to the juvenile work farm in Salina, Kansas for eighteen months. Now the warden was driving him back to the family farm in Nebraska, to close out the foreclosure papers on his father’s farm and take care of young Billy. Mr. Ransom from the next farm over suggested it might be best for Emmett and Billy to move on and start over somewhere new. Emmett already thought that over and was keen to set out the next day and head for Texas where he could put the carpentry skills he learned on the job since he was sixteen. Billy had his heart set on heading to California since he found nine old postcards their mother had sent years ago when she left the farm saying that’s where she ended up. Emmett figured either way they were leaving in the morning until he saw two figures in the old barn. Duchess Hewitt and Woolly Martin were standing next to his car but were supposed to be back at the work farm. Emmett was not happy to see them here in Nebraska. They had hid in the warden’s car trunk for the three-hour drive to the Watson farm for their escape and wanted Emmett to join them on a trip to Woolly’s grandfather’s house in upstate, New York. Woolly told Duchess that his Grandfather had put his inheritance, in cash in the total of one hundred fifty thousand dollars in his safe, in that house. Woolly said they can get it and split it three ways. Emmett had a car, but he also had his younger brother Billy, so he said he’d take them to a bus or train station, but he wasn’t going. Well, Duchess, having grown up with a thieving alcoholic dad who dropped him off at an orphanage when he was 8 years old, was used to getting by and spinning slick tales with his sly tongue. Woolly, raised in wealth and privilege, was a simple, kind-hearted soul who wanted to please everyone, would go along with whatever was decided. The group did set out with the plans mentioned just above, but of course that’s not what happened at all. Let’s say they had a few detours on the way, some with Duchess ‘borrowing’ Emmett’s car, and some with hopping trains. You see, it was Billy’s idea to follow the Lincoln Highway all the way out to California to find their mother, convinced they’d find her still in San Francisco nine years later. Billy even had maps where he plotted all the stops their mom had made shown in her postcards. Emmett figured he could work in California just as well as Texas, but finding their mother, well he’d cross that bridge when they got there. The adventure that you’re about to take is well worth your time, plus you’ll meet some interesting characters along the way. And trust me, none of it is predictable, but all of it is eye-opening. Remember, the time period is June 1954, Emmett and Billy want to get to California by July fourth because their mother loved fireworks. (And I left out Billy’s bid red book with tales of heroes; oh, you’ll see.) Thank you Netgalley and Edelweiss, Penguin Random House - Viking, and Amor Towles

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bianca

    3.5 I've finally finished this overly long book. It was a readable novel, especially since I had Eduardo Ballerini read it to me (for the most part, Marin Ireland and Dion Graham come on board for some minutes). When eighteen-year-old Emmett returns home to Nebraska, after serving some time in juvenile detention, he becomes the guardian of his eight-year-old brother, Billy, as their father had passed away and their mum had left them all some years back. Upon discovering some old postcards sent by t 3.5 I've finally finished this overly long book. It was a readable novel, especially since I had Eduardo Ballerini read it to me (for the most part, Marin Ireland and Dion Graham come on board for some minutes). When eighteen-year-old Emmett returns home to Nebraska, after serving some time in juvenile detention, he becomes the guardian of his eight-year-old brother, Billy, as their father had passed away and their mum had left them all some years back. Upon discovering some old postcards sent by their mum, they conclude that she must be in San Francisco. With the bank foreclosing on the family home, Emmett and Billy decide to take the Lincoln Highway all the way to San Francisco. Their plans take a detour, as two pals from juvie show up at the boys' home. Duchess and Wooley are two very different characters. They plan to go to Wooley's family holiday home to retrieve a big amount of money left in the safe. When Duchess and Wooley take off to New York with Emmett's truck, the siblings take a freight train to New York to recover their truck. All sorts of mishaps and adventures happen while on the train and when in New York. Duchess is one sleek, slippery character. There were sweet moments here and there, particularly when Billy was involved. But I don't know, this novel felt kind of directionless and I wasn't particularly taken with the ending either.(view spoiler)[I am disappointed with how the author dealt with Duchess and Wooley. Especially when it came to Wooley, his demise was quickly brushed over in a very casual way. (hide spoiler)] At over 16 hrs long or 576 pages, this novel had too much padding and too many side stories. I never felt emotionally engaged and it felt like I was riding in a car to nowhere.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Faith

    This book had a promising beginning when 18 year old Emmett Watson returns from serving time for involuntary manslaughter. His parents are dead and the family farm is lost, so Emmett and his 8 year old brother Billy decide to set off to California to start new lives. That promising beginning crashed and burned a few chapters later when Duchess and Woolly, 2 friends from the work farm, turned up to complicate Emmett’s plans. The book devolved into a picaresque tale without a single believable cha This book had a promising beginning when 18 year old Emmett Watson returns from serving time for involuntary manslaughter. His parents are dead and the family farm is lost, so Emmett and his 8 year old brother Billy decide to set off to California to start new lives. That promising beginning crashed and burned a few chapters later when Duchess and Woolly, 2 friends from the work farm, turned up to complicate Emmett’s plans. The book devolved into a picaresque tale without a single believable character. Everyone acted and sounded older than their age. Sally, the only significant female character, was added to the book for no reason that I could discern. The story changed point of view in each chapter so that each character, including a few who appeared only briefly, got to explain his or her story. It felt disjointed. The book was 300 pages too long. Maybe the author was aiming for a fable and he tacked on a serious ending, which I hated. I can’t believe Towles wrote this. Very disappointing.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)

    2.75 stars All aboooooooard! There is a love train for this book and it's filling up fast. That train will be leaving the station without me. Amor Towles is a gifted storyteller. The trouble here was that he couldn't seem to decide which story he wanted to tell. So he told them all. In one novel. What it felt like to me was that he knew a lot of odd and eccentric things about the early to mid-20th century, and he wanted to find a way to include them all in the book. So we get digression after dig 2.75 stars All aboooooooard! There is a love train for this book and it's filling up fast. That train will be leaving the station without me. Amor Towles is a gifted storyteller. The trouble here was that he couldn't seem to decide which story he wanted to tell. So he told them all. In one novel. What it felt like to me was that he knew a lot of odd and eccentric things about the early to mid-20th century, and he wanted to find a way to include them all in the book. So we get digression after digression as we are introduced to a parade of peripheral characters and their life histories. This would have been a much better novel if it were more focused, and if Emmett and Billy had actually driven to California as planned.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I loved Amor Towles previous novels and I am delighted that this is another five-star read. It features eighteen-year-old Emmett, who returns home from a sentence for inadvertently killing a young man at the local country fair. Greeted with delight by his young brother Billy, and neighbour Sally, he is less thrilled that two young men from the work farm have hitched a lift with Warden Williams. Duchess is the son of a vaudeville performer and Woolly is from a wealthy family but was never a natur I loved Amor Towles previous novels and I am delighted that this is another five-star read. It features eighteen-year-old Emmett, who returns home from a sentence for inadvertently killing a young man at the local country fair. Greeted with delight by his young brother Billy, and neighbour Sally, he is less thrilled that two young men from the work farm have hitched a lift with Warden Williams. Duchess is the son of a vaudeville performer and Woolly is from a wealthy family but was never a natural fit and his family now have authority over his trust fund. Emmett has none of those issues. His father left nothing, but debts and the family farm has been foreclosed. Indeed, the banker is waiting for Emmett on his return and all that he has left is his powder blue 1948 Studebaker Land Cruiser. With locals having long memories, Emmett decides to head out on a road trip and make a new life. He didn’t count on Duchess and Woolly coming along, nor for the host of other characters they will meet along the way. Without doubt, this is an excellent portrait of 1950’s America, with Towles painting a realistic view of life at that time. The characters all have depth and I think readers may well find young Billy a favourite, with his big red book, “Professor Abacus Abernathe’s Compendium of Heroes, Adventurers and Other Intrepid Travellers,” which will provide lots of links throughout the story. Overall, though, this is a delight, containing deep themes, which will appeal to book groups, a unique cast of characters, troubled young men, friendship and is, in many ways, the classic tale of young people making their way in the world without adults to guide them and a whole host of unforeseen circumstances that will make their journey a memorable, but bumpy one. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.

  26. 4 out of 5

    CoachJim

    In college a common exam question would be “Compare and Contrast”. We would often insert that phrase in conversation to mock our Professors. The phrase came to mind as I read this book. The obvious comparison is to the author’s other great novel “A Gentleman in Moscow”. The character development and the philosophical musings are similar. But a book I read earlier this year is the one I kept thinking about. “This Tender Land” by William Kent Krueger also featured 4 orphans, including a pair of br In college a common exam question would be “Compare and Contrast”. We would often insert that phrase in conversation to mock our Professors. The phrase came to mind as I read this book. The obvious comparison is to the author’s other great novel “A Gentleman in Moscow”. The character development and the philosophical musings are similar. But a book I read earlier this year is the one I kept thinking about. “This Tender Land” by William Kent Krueger also featured 4 orphans, including a pair of brothers, on a road trip. There was a character named Ulysses, and also the character Billy from this book seemed to share a sixth sense with Emmy in Tender Land. Instead of a Studebaker and The Lincoln Highway they traveled by canoe on the Minnesota river. Unlike the other two books this one has alternating chapters from the point of view of different characters. This is a method that is bothersome at times, but here it works well. These are a distinct set of interesting and unique characters, each with their own peculiar voice. Where in A Gentleman in Moscow all the action takes place in one building this story spans half a continent. Also in this book readers will follow multiple characters instead just The Count and Sofia. This book also has several philosophical musings by characters similar to those by the Count in A Gentleman in Moscow. Sally relates the story of Jesus dismissing the complaint by Martha over her sister Mary’s idleness. She then tells about how much effort and time it takes to make a homemade Apple Pie. After setting a slice of the pie in front of her father, he gulps down half of it and continues his conversation without a word of thanks. This parable also represents Sally’s conflicted relationship with Emmett. She closes that story with a classic quote: For kindness begins where necessity ends. (Page 104). Readers who were satisfied with the ending in A Gentleman in Moscow should be satisfied with this ending. They will also enjoy the hilarious encounter that Woolly has with a Dictionary and Thesaurus. They will enjoy the characters of Professor Abacus Abernathe and Ulysses. A Gentleman in Moscow will always be a special book for me, and to compare this book with it and A Tender Land puts it in fine company. This book was every bit as good as A Gentleman in Moscow and will be the best work of fiction I will have read this year. Only one other friend has read it so far and she gave it 5 stars but did not review it. A Gentleman in Moscow was a popular and well-read book. I am looking forward to seeing how this book ranks with readers. I will be reading lots of reviews in order to “Compare and Contrast.”

  27. 4 out of 5

    Olive Fellows (abookolive)

    Click here to hear my thoughts on this book over on my Booktube channel, abookolive. The third novel from wildly popular author Amor Towles tells the story of three young men and one boy in America’s heartland making their way to New York - all seeking different outcomes from the journey. This one is likely to appeal to readers of A Gentleman in Moscow because of the focus on characters over plot, but it’s ultimately too long and uneven. Click here to hear my thoughts on this book over on my Booktube channel, abookolive. The third novel from wildly popular author Amor Towles tells the story of three young men and one boy in America’s heartland making their way to New York - all seeking different outcomes from the journey. This one is likely to appeal to readers of A Gentleman in Moscow because of the focus on characters over plot, but it’s ultimately too long and uneven.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    I know I am in the minority, but perhaps because I am not a fan of quest books, this one didn’t live up to the hype for me. I say that having absolutely loved Rules of Civility and A Gentleman in Moscow. So I eagerly awaited receiving my copy, and I read it through to completion. I didn’t find the characters likable or the plot plausible. It meandered through irrelevant and illogical anecdotes. By the end, I didn’t care what happened to any of them. It also made maneuvering across the country an I know I am in the minority, but perhaps because I am not a fan of quest books, this one didn’t live up to the hype for me. I say that having absolutely loved Rules of Civility and A Gentleman in Moscow. So I eagerly awaited receiving my copy, and I read it through to completion. I didn’t find the characters likable or the plot plausible. It meandered through irrelevant and illogical anecdotes. By the end, I didn’t care what happened to any of them. It also made maneuvering across the country and navigating NYC seem extremely uncomplicated and easy for 1954. All you needed was a Howard Johnson’s map. And it was incredibly easy to find people you were looking for. At times I wondered if this really was a myth or fantasy. The writing, as would be expected, was terrific, but other than for that, I don’t know anyone for whom I could recommend this book. Now that I think about it, people who had read advance copies just told me to read it. They never told me why I would enjoy it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    Terrific! Review TK

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bam cooks the books ;-)

    *3.5 stars rounded up. I think my expectations were a little too high for this new book by Amor Towles, a favorite author. I expected that it would be a road trip, an odyssey of sorts, along the famous Lincoln Highway. Seems reasonable since that is the title. And it started out that way with Emmett Watson and his little brother Billy piling into Emmett's Studebaker and leaving their hometown in rural Nebraska behind in the dust with plans to reach San Francisco by the 4th of July, 1954. But the *3.5 stars rounded up. I think my expectations were a little too high for this new book by Amor Towles, a favorite author. I expected that it would be a road trip, an odyssey of sorts, along the famous Lincoln Highway. Seems reasonable since that is the title. And it started out that way with Emmett Watson and his little brother Billy piling into Emmett's Studebaker and leaving their hometown in rural Nebraska behind in the dust with plans to reach San Francisco by the 4th of July, 1954. But they have two other passengers in the car, one of whom has different plans, and their trip goes off the rails almost immediately. This is an exciting adventure story filled with thrills and chills and eccentric characters but it could oddly be a bit dull and repetitive at times. Certain scenes were repeated from another character's point of view and that often seemed unnecessary and slowed the plot. It's intriguing that Towles uses first person pov with some characters; I assume to better reveal their motivations and internal dialogue. But I have to ask why quotation marks were eschewed for dashes? It worked for the most part but could occasionally be confusing. Lack of quotation mark usage happens to be a pet peeve of mine--okay, so it's the English teacher in me, lol. One character agrees with me and actually discusses the importance of punctuation for ease in understanding meaning. Yes!! The last 20% of the book is 'edge of the seat' reading with a really satisfying ending. That, plus some truly wonderful characterizations, brought my rating up to 4 stars. But I would have really enjoyed a road trip on the Lincoln Highway across 50s America, sigh. Sequel? I received an arc of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks for the opportunity.

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