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The Lincoln Highway: A New York Times Number One Bestseller Kindle Edition
FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE MULTI-MILLION COPY BESTSELLER A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW
'An absolute beauty of a book. Every character is a gem, the many locations spring to vivid life, the book is an intricate and moving exploration of journeys and the infinite unexpected turns they can take - and somehow Towles makes it all seem effortless. As soon as I finished it, I wanted to read it again' TANA FRENCH
'The best novel I've read in years. Epic and original, mesmeric and life-affirming, in THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY Amor Towles takes his unmatched gift for storytelling and puts it on the road. Every beautiful paragraph takes the reader a mile further into a world where our choices matter, where life surprises us, and where people are worth the trouble. This is one of those rare and special books that drive us home to ourselves' CHRIS CLEAVE
'With exquisitely drawn characters, beautiful writing and a real sense of moral integrity, The Lincoln Highway already feels like an American coming of age classic to sit alongside The Catcher In The Rye and To Kill A Mockingbird' Red
In June, 1954, eighteen-year-old Emmett Watson is driven home to Nebraska by the warden of the juvenile work farm where he has just served fifteen months for involuntary manslaughter.
With his mother long gone, his father recently deceased, and the family farm foreclosed upon by the bank, Emmett plans to pick up his eight-year-old brother Billy and head to California to start a new life.
But when the warden drives away, Emmett discovers that two friends from the work farm have stowed away in the trunk of the warden's car. They have a very different plan for Emmett's future, one that will take the four of them on a fateful journey in the opposite direction - to New York City.
Bursting with life, charm, richly imagined settings and unforgettable characters, The Lincoln Highway is an extraordinary journey through 1950s America from the pen of a master storyteller.
'[A] wise and wildly entertaining novel . . . Towles has snipped off a minuscule strand of existence - 10 wayward days - and when we look through his lens we see that this brief interstice teems with stories, grand as legends' New York Times
'Finely observed and beautifully written. Amor Towles is that rare combination of writer and storyteller' JEFFREY ARCHER
About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
June 12, 1954 The drive from Salina to Morgen was three hours, and for much of it, Emmett hadn t said a word. For the first sixty miles or so, Warden Williams had made an effort at friendly conversation. He had told a few stories about his childhood back East and asked a few questions about Emmett s on the farm. But this was the last they d be together, and Emmett didn t see much sense in going into all of that now. So when they crossed the border from Kansas into Nebraska and the warden turned on the radio, Emmett stared out the window at the prairie, keeping his thoughts to himself.
When they were five miles south of town, Emmett pointed through the windshield.
You take that next right. It ll be the white house about four miles down the road.
The warden slowed his car and took the turn. They drove past the McKusker place, then the Andersens with its matching pair of large red barns. A few minutes later they could see Emmett s house standing beside a small grove of oak trees about thirty yards from the road. To Emmett, all the houses in this part of the country looked like they d been dropped from the sky. The Watson house just looked like it d had a rougher landing. The roof line sagged on either side of the chimney and the window frames were slanted just enough that half the windows wouldn t quite open and the other half wouldn t quite shut. In another moment, they d be able to see how the paint had been shaken right off the clapboard. But when they got within a hundred feet of the driveway, the warden pulled to the side of the road.
Emmett, he said, with his hands on the wheel, before we drive in there s something I d like to say.
That Warden Williams had something to say didn t come as much of a surprise. When Emmett had first arrived at Salina, the warden was a Hoosier named Ackerly, who wasn t inclined to put into words a piece of advice that could be delivered more efficiently with a stick. But Warden Williams was a modern man with a master s degree and good intentions and a framed photograph of Franklin D. Roosevelt hanging behind his desk. He had notions that he d gathered from books and experience, and he had plenty of words at his disposal to turn them into counsel.
For some of the young men who come to Salina, he began, whatever series of events has brought them under our sphere of influence is just the beginning of a long journey through a life of trouble. They re boys who were never given much sense of right or wrong as children and who see little reason for learning it now. Whatever values or ambitions we try to instill in them will, in all likelihood, be cast aside the moment they walk out from under our gaze. Sadly, for these boys it is only a matter of time before they find themselves in the correctional facility at Topeka, or worse.
The warden turned to Emmett.
What I m getting at, Emmett, is that you are not one of them. We haven t known each other long, but from my time with you I can tell that that boy s death weighs heavily on your conscience. No one imagines what happened that night reflects either the spirit of malice or an expression of your character. It was the ugly side of chance. But as a civilized society, we ask that even those who have had an unintended hand in the misfortune of others pay some retribution. Of course, the payment of the retribution is in part to satisfy those who ve suffered the brunt of the misfortune like this boy s family. But we also require that it be paid for the benefit of the young man who was the agent of misfortune. So that by having the opportunity to pay his debt, he too can find some solace, some sense of atonement, and thus begin the process of renewal. Do you understand me, Emmett?
--This text refers to the paperback edition.
- ASIN : B096LRZ4VT
- Publisher : Cornerstone Digital (5 October 2021)
- Language : English
- File size : 5378 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 592 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: 166 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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Aside from the preciousness of some characters one minor fault began to grate on me like sand in a sneaker - the author's reliance of a blow to the head "'.. and then everything went dark.... when he awoke...' to advance the narrative. I don't care if it's meant to be a trope or simply lazy writing but the amateur neurologist in me began counting the blows and wondering why at least one of the bodies slumping to the ground wasn't permanently brain damaged or dead. Hitting somebody on the head with a shovel doesn't give a convenient brief coma. It kills them and leaves them looking like a frog.
Aside from these caveats I enjoyed the book but my heart belongs back in Moscow.
It showcases the author's range of imagination and captivated me from the first few pages.
The characters are lovable, even Duchess, who arguably shouldn't be. The author has crafted a truly engaging set of characters, and I found myself trying to stay awake to read more every night.
Such a rich and unique story, that flows seamlessly. Very little is predictable, as the author makes uses of each character to backtrack and fill in some blanks along the way.
Loved it, and highly recommend for anyone who appreciates great fiction.
Top reviews from other countries
Their old life has certainly featured many tribulations. As the novel opens, eighteen-year-old Emmett is being driven home by the Warder of Salinas, a juvenile detention centre, where he had served a short sentence for accidentally causing the death of a young man (not without provocation, Emmett had punched him, causing him to fall and hit his head). He is welcomed back to the family farm by the father and daughter from a neighbouring farm. During his sentence, Emmett’s father (who had always struggled to manage the farm) had died, and eight-year-old Billy had been looked after by Sally. She will emerge as a powerful character in the book, driven by a fierce righteousness that has been provoked by finding herself constantly expected to look after men who scarcely even acknowledge her. Immediately upon his return Emmett also learns that the bank is about to foreclose the various loans that his father had taken, and on which massive arrears have accrued.
I am conscious of how much I enjoyed the book, so am anxious not to strew any inadvertent spoilers, so won’t say much more about the basic background scenario, beyond saying that, after having planned to head to the west coast, for various reasons they actually end up travelling east. Their journey will be far from smooth, with a succession of mishaps and pitfalls, but also some extraordinary encounters, and some delightful characters.
Emmett is a finely drawn character, and his attitude to life and his obligations is far from what one might anticipate from a character just released from a custodial sentence. He has a strong moral code, and is determined never again to place himself under a debt or obligation to anyone else. Billy is earnest and erudite beyond his years, but with a very literal approach to life. His understanding of the world is largely formed from his enthusiastic study of a book drawing together a series of stories about exalted traveller, both real and fictional.
Emmett and Billy are joined in their travels by Duchess and Woolly, two of Emmett’s fellow inmates at Salinas. Woolly is from a privileged background, but has not found it easy to engage with life. Duchess has had a far harder upbringing, and while he has his own moral code, it is markedly different in scope, and implementation, from that of Emmett.
Towles delivers the story through sections focusing in turns on different characters, with some first-person observations from Duchess thrown in along the way. I have found that this narrative form can detract from a story’s impact, but that is not the case here. The author keeps the story moving smoothly forward, despite the various tangents on which the action frequently departs.
All in all, this is a great story peopled by marvellous characters, and I had enjoyed reading it so much that I felt sad when I finished it.