By Leigh Infield
The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles
Amor Towles, one of my favorite authors, is a master at getting inside his characters so that they come alive on the page and remain memorable after you’ve finished the book.
I’ll never forget his aristocratic nobleman in his international best-seller, A Gentleman From Moscow. Similarly, I find the characters in his latest book, The Lincoln Highway, equally compelling.
The book is another page-turner as the reader follows the escapades of three young men and an adolescent boy who embark on a cross country road trip, along what once was the first national highway. Their adventures and misadventures fill some 500 pages, leaving the reader to wonder “will they ever make it to the West Coast?” as they get sidetracked over and over again.
While Emmett is the main character, it is his younger brother who stole my heart. Wise beyond his years, he often is more perceptive and rational than his older travel companions.
Duchess and Willy pop up in the book to join the two brothers on their venture, and are equally well-drawn by the author, if not always likeable. The story is told through the three young men and is peppered with other unforgettable characters, such as the shady Pastor and kindhearted Ulysses whom they meet in the boxcar of a freight train bound for New York –another unwanted sidetrack.
I never thought I would enjoy a book about young men who had served some time in juvenile detention, as all three of Towles young men did. However, the author won my sympathy for these young offenders, intimating that one mishap had life-changing consequences for each. This book surprised me as I found it thoroughly enjoyable and couldn’t put it down. It also left me wondering if there aren’t other young people today who land in juvenile facilities, undeserving of such a harsh sentence.~
By Judy Garrison
Lessons By Ian McEwan
I was the first Andes Library patron to snatch off the shelf Ian McEwan’s latest novel, Lessons. Right along I’ve been an admirer of McEwan’s writing. But, frankly, I often found a bit unbelievable his typical plot line of a sudden devolvement of good fortune pivoting on a single moment. Some of it is quease inducing. Also characters not fully drawn and therefore not fully real to me. This book is different. It takes you along on a ride through the life from age 11 of one Roland Baines (many similarities to McEwan’s own life have not been denied by the author) with all of its bumps, horrors and glorious complexities and interspersed with frequent references to seminal world events that convincingly influence the protagonist’s state of mind and life choices. This time we get McEwan’s marvelous writing along with a rich account of the full trajectory of an ordinary man’s existence, including his interior mullings. ~
By Sharon Ruetenik
The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell.
This historical novel is loosely based on Browning’s poem “My Last Duchess”. As was the custom of the nobility in 16th century Italy, a young Lucrezia is married to the Duke of Ferrara, a psychopath whose sterility makes it impossible to produce an heir. O’Farrell addresses the common cruelties of life for women in this era (no matter what their social class) and their limited opportunities. However, Lucrezia defies her time and status because she is an accomplished painter, able to disguise herself to gain moments of freedom, her dreams of Venice, and her friendship with the apprentice who works on her portrait. Her nail biting escape and the narrative twists to manage it offer an inability to put this book down. For those interested in women’s rights, the apprentice who works on her portrait. Her nail biting escape and the narrative twists to manage it offer an inability to put this book down. For those interested in women’s rights, the daily life of the court, and the use of art for political purposes, this is the book for you.~