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Marianne’s Pick of the Week: Table for Two by Amor Towles

Book cover with two people sitting at a table

 

Amor Towles needs no introduction, his last two novels, A Gentleman in Moscow and The Lincoln Highway, were runaway bestsellers (and I loved them). In this outing Towles offers us one novella and a collection of short stories.  

In Table for Two Towles brings us stories that center on unlikely encounters that result in unexpected resolutions. We meet a variety of characters in some truly crazy situations. Get ready to encounter a man in Soviet-era Russia who makes a living by holding peoples’ places in line; two strangers whose flights are delayed end up sharing a cab and much more; a naive would-be author who is duped by a used bookseller into forging famous authors’ signatures and a concertgoer who is driven nuts by an elderly patron who is secretly recording the concerts. The thread holding these tales together is a key moment in each story that occurs between characters sitting at a table for two.  

The final piece in the collection is the novella Eve in Hollywood. We are reintroduced to the indomitable Evelyn Ross from Towles’ first novel Rules of Civility. Eve has made the decision to leave New York and return home to Indiana, but instead of getting off the train in Chicago, Eve opts to extend her trip to Los Angeles. Here Eve meets and becomes besties with Olivia De Havilland (yes indeed, Miss Melly from Gone with the Wind). We follow Eve and Livvy enjoying a lavish life in Hollywood (oh the parties). That is until Eve is called upon to rescue Livvy from a possible career-ending situation.  

Towles brings readers a story filled with noirish details (ex-cops, con men, washed up actors and wise guys). Of course we have the main attraction, Eve herself, a scarred blonde and self-professed tough chick. Towles is an expert at creating settings and establishing tone. I found myself wanting to talk with an old Hollywood-style voice and wear high heels with a pencil skirt. I was there in 1930s Hollywood, hobnobbing with gangsters, starlets and studio heads.  

Pick up this book if you enjoyed Towles’ other novels, happen to enjoy short stories (Uncommon Type from Tom Hanks) or if you’re looking for a stylish read that also has substance along with a bit of irony on the side.  

Categories: Books and More

Tags: Books and More

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