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This is a story that hits all the high points; brilliant writing, great story, characters that are fully developed and evolve throughout the events... impossible to believe this is a first novel. The protagonist is 25-year-old Katey Kontent, who lives in a boarding house in the fast & furious New York City of the late 1930s. New York becomes a silent character in the novel, and Towles is able to bring the whole era to life with his descriptions and wit:
"The only other woman in the place was a young brunette with short-cropped hair sitting in the far corner under the moth-ridden head of a grizzly. Wearing a man's suit and a white-collared shirt, she was blowing smoke rings and wishing she was Gertrude Stein."
This is an era of jazz clubs and drinking but also of trying to get ahead, to make a place in the world when the world was changing at dizzying speed. A time when people could lose themselves in life and wealth was won and lost daily.
Katey and her best friend Evey meet Tinker Grey, a wealthy, smart and rich investor. They both are attracted to him but when Tinker and Evey are irrevocably and literally tossed together, Katey has to retreat and go her own way...
This novel is one of those stories that is impossible to put down and that you wish would never end.
I am eagerly looking forward to Mr. Towles next novel but wonder how he can compete with his first one... OK.. so one more quote:
"Before the doors closed a pair of honeymooners joined us. Bright, rosy and young, they looked like they were ready to spend every last penny they had on room service. When they skipped down the hallway on twelve, I offered the elevator boy a friendly smirk.
-Newlyweds, I said.
-Not exactly, ma'am.
-Not exactly newly. Not exactly wed. Watch your step."
Recommended by Suzi