Lucy by the SeaLucy by the Sea is an amazing rumination on life during the COVID pandemic from the perspective of Elizabeth Strout’s well known character, Lucy Barton.

Lucy Barton is a famous novelist, recently widowed and living in the Manhattan apartment she shared with her New York Philharmonic cellist husband David. David has been gone for almost a year and a half. Readers of the Lucy Barton series know that Lucy has a very close relationship with her ex-husband William, from whom she has been divorced twenty years and with whom she has two daughters, Chrissy and Becka.

Lucy had cancelled a European book tour that would have begun in October of 2019 and was supposed to have been in Germany and Italy in March of 2020. Instead, in March of 2020, William demands that Lucy leave Manhattan and go to Maine with him. Lucy has a hard time comprehending the fuss. “What is strange as I look back is how I simply did not know what was happening.”

William and Lucy rent a battered house in Maine on the water. William’s friend and lawyer, Bob Burgess, arranged for them to rent the house and Lucy and Bob become close friends. The community is not at all welcoming of New Yorkers, fearful of the virus.

Lucy hates the house. “The house should have been lovely, I mean you could see it had been lovely at one point…but as I walked inside I felt what I always feel about being in someone else’s house: I hated it.” Lucy finds peace only by taking long walks. “I walked without seeing people…It seemed strange to me that the world of New York would remain so beautiful as all those people were dying.”

Lucy stays in touch with her daughter and communicates with her sister and brother. William stays in touch with his ex-wife Estelle and their daughter Bridget. The pandemic prevents them from seeing each other but ultimately they are able to visit outside and at a distance. And in the meantime, William and Lucy are growing closer.

The novel runs through the worst part of the pandemic, the George Floyd murder and the arrival of the vaccine. The novel addresses the personal side of the politics of division and the importance of treating people with decency regardless of perspective. But perhaps the most amazing aspect of this truly wonderful novel is that, despite everything—the pandemic, political trauma, distance—life goes on and people continue to change and grow. Lucy describes this continuity of life as ping pong balls bouncing around randomly and randomly hitting one another. “My point is, if we are lucky we bounce into someone. But we always bounce away again, at least a little.” And yet, there are still things you can only experience alone.

This novel is simply spectacular. It evinces a sense of unreality that we all experienced during the pandemic and yet it also highlights our adaptability and ability to make the most of the time we have. I cannot recommend this enough, although you may want to start with “My Name is Lucy Barton” and work your way up to this novel. Lucy by the Sea can be reserved at the Cuyahoga County Public Library by clicking here.

Horse“Horse” is a work of historical fiction about horses, race, wealth and art. The novel focuses on a historic racehorse, Lexington. The story spans three different time periods and ties together disparate people and incidents.

The novel begins with Theo in 2019, a Georgetown PhD candidate with diplomat parents and a privileged upbringing. Theo grew up overseas, went to boarding school and played polo. Despite his education and privileged upbringing, he feels that he is constantly the target of racism. He lives across the street from an older couple who sneer at him each time they see him. After the husband dies, the wife puts a number of household items on the curb. Theo takes a portrait of a horse out of the pile. That horse is the famous Lexington.

Jess is from Australia and works for the Smithsonian “managing their vertebrae Osteology Prep Lab at the Museum Support Center in Maryland.” Jess receives a call advising that a researcher from the Royal Veterinary College in England is looking for an articulated skeleton of a horse. That skeleton also happens to be Lexington. Theo and Jess meet accidently but discover they have the horse in common. They commence a romantic relationship which is fraught with racial tension.

In 1850, Dr Warfield has a horse farm and Harry Lewis is a free black man who manages horses for Dr. Warfield. Dr. Warfield purchases Jarret, Harry’s son, at Harry’s request. The horse Lexington is born on Dr. Warfield’s farm and Jarret has a natural relationship with Lexington from the moment of the horse’s birth.

Thomas Scott is an artist who is commissioned to paint Lexington at various points during Lexington’s life. He first meets Lexington and Jarret when both are young, but Scott is a constant presence in their lives.

Lexington is sold a number of times and each time Jarret is sold along with the horse. Each time Jarret is sold, the chapter about Jarret is named differently. First, Warfield’s Jarret, then Ten Broeck’s Jarret, then Alexander’s Jarret, and finally, Jarret Lewis.

Lexington becomes the fastest horse in history and wins a number of races until his failing eyesight causes him to leave the racetrack. Lexington then becomes a stud horse and sires some of the fastest horses in history. Lexington and Jarret’s story continue through 1875, well past the Civil War and into Jarret’s life as a free man in Canada. Lexington’s story is a story of racing, animal cruelty, and Jarret’s dedication to the horse. Thomas Scott’s paintings are also a significant part of the story.

The third segment of the novel involves Martha Jackson, from 1954 through 1956. Martha Jackson comes from a well to do family and her mother was a devoted equestrian until her unfortunate death in a riding accident. Her horse was a descendent of Lexington. Martha runs an art gallery and is close friends with Lee Krasner, Jackson Pollock’s wife. Martha’s housekeeper asks Martha to value a painting of a horse owned by her family. She wants to sell the painting to raise funds to enable her brother to go to medical school. Martha gives her sports car to Jackson Pollock in exchange for two of his paintings, enabling her to buy the horse painting. The painting is done by Thomas Scott and is a painting of Lexington.

The novel tells the story of Lexington and Jarret in parallel with the story of Jess and Theo. There is some happiness in the novel and an awful lot of tragedy. Portions of the story are based on actual events and the author includes an Afterword and a really interesting section entitled “Lexington’s Historical Connections.”

I am a big fan of Gerladine Brooks, and although this is not my favorite of her novels, it is, like everything she does, very very good. So if you are a fan of horses, a student of the Civil War or passionate about art, this is the novel for you.

You can reserve Horse at the Cuyahoga County Public Library by clicking here.

TrustTrust is a unique novel about perception v reality, wealth v greed, gender equity and the complexity of relationships.

The story is told in three segments. The first segment is a separate novel within the novel by fictitious author Harold Vanner. Vanner tells the story of Benjamin Rask, the ancestor of an extremely wealthy New York City tobacco family. “Because he had enjoyed almost every advantage since birth, one of the few privileges denied to Benjamin Rask was that of a heroic rise.” Benjamin has no interest in the tobacco business and soon discovers a passion for investing. He becomes incredibly wealthy and builds a limestone beaux arts mansion on Fifth Avenue. Enter Helen Brevoort.

Helen’s family “were an old Albany family whose fortunes had not kept up with their name.” The family leaves America in an attempt to avoid their bad fortunes and goes to Europe where they move around from place to place, staying with other Americans. Helen’s father’s mental condition rapidly deteriorates and her mother checks him into a sanatorium in Switzerland (Dr. Bally’s Medico-Mechanic Institute at Bad Pfafers). Her father wanders off never to be heard from again.

Helen is befriended by an employee of Benjamin Rask and ultimately Helen and her mother return to New York City. Helen is introduced to Benjamin and they marry. Helen uses some of Benjamin’s wealth to support philanthropic causes in the arts. She holds small private concerts in her home and sponsors authors and musicians. When the stock market crashes, Benjamin profits and his reputation is viewed somewhat askance. In fact, he is blamed for causing the crash.

As a result of the controversy over Benjamin’s actions, musicians and performers start to decline Helen’s invitations and her mental health begins to deteriorate. Ultimately, Benjamin has her admitted to Medico-Mechanic Institute at Bad Pfafers in Switzerland for her psychological issues. The story does not end well.

The second part of the novel is the unpublished memoir of Andrew Bevel. Andrew Bevel is the wealthy financier upon whose life Benjamin Rask is based. The memoir is effectively written by Ida Portenza, who is hired by Bevel to assist him in telling his story. Bevel has lost his wife, Mildred, and is furious over the Vanner novel. He uses his wealth to ensure that the Vanner novel is destroyed and never seen again. He wants Ida to help him tell his true story and Mildred’s true story. Mildred did not end her life due to mental health issues and he wants the record set straight. He presents himself as civically minded and always interested in the greater good. He presents Mildred as a quiet unassuming woman who requires his assistance with her philanthropic goals.

In the third part of the novel, Ida tells her story. Between the second and third parts of the novel we learn portions of the true story.  Bevel’s memoir is not published and years later, Ida acquires access to some of Mildred’s notebooks. Ida shares the content of the notebooks. Mildred’s notebooks tell the real story!

The novel is brilliant in concept and execution. The story is a lot of fun and tells the reader quite a bit about the early twentieth century and the challenges for women during that time. Definitely give this a read. You can reserve Trust at the Cuyahoga County Public Library by clicking here.

Sea of TranquilitySea of Tranquility asks the question of whether this life is real or whether we are living in a simulation. The story is influenced by the COVID pandemic, the increasing importance of artificial intelligence and the rise of authoritarianism.

The story begins in 1912, when Edwin St John St. Andrews is banished from his home in England due to his radical views about England’s presence in India. Edwin makes his way to Canada, where he travels about looking for his place. Ultimately he finds himself in Caiette. One day he goes for a stroll and enters a forest, where he sees a maple tree. “He steps forward—into a flash of darkness, like sudden blindness or an eclipse. He has an impression of being in some vast interior, something like a train station or a cathedral, and there are notes of violin music, there are other people around him, and then an incomprehensible sound—“

When Edwin returns to himself he walks to a church where he meets Father Roberts, a substitute for the Church’s regular priest. Father Roberts asks him to tell him about his experience, but when the church’s real priest arrives Father Roberts disappears.

The story then moves to the year 2020. A composer, Paul Smith, during a performance shows a video his now deceased sister made in Caiette. The video shows his sister walking toward an old maple tree. Then “the screen went black, just for a second, and there was a brief confusion of overlapping sounds—a few notes of violin, a dim cacophony like the interior of a metropolitan train station…” Mirella attends Paul’s performance because she is hoping to track down his sister, Vincent, not knowing that she had died. After the performance, Paul, Mirella and two men, Daniel McConaghy and Gaspery Roberts go for a drink. Mr. Roberts is very interested in the video. Mirella thinks she recognizes Gaspery.

The story then moves to 2202, when Olive, an author is doing a book tour in what we now know as the United States, but in the novel is the Atlantic Republic and other countries. Her travels and the talks make her exhausted. She lives in a moon colony with her husband and daughter and is anxious to return to them. Her husband is an architect and is designing a new university building, which suspiciously includes tunnels attached to the government security building. Olive’s book, Marienbad, is about a pandemic. Her last interview of the trip is in Philadelphia with a gentleman named Gaspery Roberts, which strikes Olive since a character in her book is named Gaspery-Jacques. The interview goes off record.

The book then moves forward to the year 2401 and backward at the same time. In 2401, a gentleman named Gaspery has lost his mother and is working in security. His sister, Zoey, is a physicist at the university. Gaspery goes to work for The Time Institute and becomes a time traveler. It is in this part of the story that everything comes together. I will leave it here and let you enjoy the surprises.

The novel is very enjoyable and thought provoking. “If we were living in a simulation, how would we know it was a simulation?…How do you investigate reality?” If you are a fan of Emily St. John Mandel you will recognize some of the characters from her last novel, The Glass Hotel. You can reserve this book at the Cuyahoga County Public Library by clicking here.

The Book of Form and Emptiness“The Book of Form and Emptiness” is a story about love of books,  understanding,  nonjudgmental tolerance  and the insignificance of material things. In general, the story is told by the book, which may sound obvious, but in this case, the book is a form of being. And the book is telling the story of Benny’s life (except when Benny chimes in).

After Benny stabs himself with talking scissors, he is hospitalized in the pediatric psychiatry ward of Children’s Hospital. While there he meets Alice. Alice leaves him strange notes and when he comes out of the hospital those notes cause him to start going to the main Library of his unidentified west coast town.

At the Library, he meets the Aleph and the Bottle Man (the b-man). He decides to stop going to school all together and goes to the library instead. At the library, he has all sorts of adventures. “The Library always felt like a mirror of the world.”

In the meantime, Annabelle has bought a book entitled “The Ancient Zen Art of Clearing Your Clutter and Revolutionizing Your Life.” Unfortunately, the book does very little to help Annabelle clear her clutter, but she begins to communicate with its author.

Although Benny is rehospitalized and child protective services threatens to place him in foster care because of the condition of their home, everything turns out okay in the end.

The novel is less about the story than about all of our stories and our distraction with material things instead of focusing on each other. The novel also highlights the importance of libraries and the very special people who are librarians. And of course, the importance of books!

“Every person is trapped in their own particular bubble of delusion, and it’s every person’s task in life to break free. Books can help. [Books] can make the past the present, take you back in time and help you remember. [Books] can show you things, shift your realities and widen your world, but the work of waking up is up to you.”

The novel is the recent winner of the Women’s Prize and can be reserved at the Cuyahoga County Public Library by clicking here.

French BraidIf you love Anne Tyler as I do, you will love French Braid, which is pure Anne Tyler and a breath of fresh air.

The novel starts in March of 2010 with Serena Drew and her boyfriend, James, in the Philadelphia train station. Serena sees someone she thinks might be her cousin and James intercedes and introduces himself to the man, Nicholas, who is in fact Serena’s first cousin. James thinks it odd that Serena is so unfamiliar with her cousin, and maintains a distant relationship with her family. James’ reaction causes Serena to think back over her family’s history. The rest of the novel is the story of that history.

Serena’s mother, Lily, is the middle child of Mercy and Robin Garrett, of Baltimore. Lily’s older sister, Alice, was always the adult of the family and her younger brother, David, always maintained a distance. Lily was somewhat wild in her younger years and experienced a number of questionable romantic relationships. Serena is the result of an affair with a married man who ultimately divorces his wife and marries Lily.

Mercy is an artist and rents a studio where she slowly moves all her possessions and ultimately, to Robin’s chagrin, makes her permanent residence. She returns to the family house periodically to do laundry and to ensure that Robin is taken care of.

Alice marries and has two children and appears to lead a traditional life. David goes off to college and the family sees very little of him. After graduation, David teaches English and drama at a high school outside Philadelphia. He never travels home. Then, in 1982, he calls the family and says he would like to visit for Easter. He travels to Baltimore and brings with him his older girlfriend, Greta, and her daughter, Emily. Ultimately Greta and David marry, although there is no family wedding. None of the Garrett children seem to be particularly close.

The family again comes together in 1990 to celebrate Robin and Mercy’s 50th anniversary (yes, even though they live apart they stay married). Time goes by and grandchildren are born and people die. Yet despite the family dysfunction and seeming lack of closeness, they come together periodically in a variety of different ways, like French braids, where the crimps in the hair show even after the braids are undone. “…that’s how families work…You think you’re free of them, but you’re never really free; the ripples are crimped in forever.”

And that is the story of French Braid. No matter how independent you believe yourself to be, and no matter how dysfunctional you believe your family to be, the impact of your family is always with you. This is a delightful, short, completely enjoyable novel. You can reserve it at the Cuyahoga County Public Library by clicking here.

Oh William!“Oh William” is Elizabeth Strout’s third Lucy Barton novel. The novel focuses on family, the importance of formative years and the lifelong process of filling in the holes of knowledge about ourselves and others.

Lucy is now 62 years old, divorced, widowed and the mother of two adult daughters. Lucy has a close friendly relationship with her ex-husband William, who is 69 years old at the start of the novel and who has a much younger wife, Estelle, and a six year old daughter, Bridget. Lucy is a famous novelist and William is a semi-retired parasitologist. Lucy’s second husband David Abramson, came from a Hasidic Jewish background and was a cellist with the philharmonic. David died prior to the start of the story. “But there is this: Both with the discovery of David’s illness and then again with his death, it was William I called first.”

Throughout the novel Lucy is contemplating her difficult childhood and her relationship with William and William’s sophisticated mother, Catherine, as well as the lives of her daughters. William calls Lucy and they meet for coffee periodically. She knows that his father had fought with the Nazis and he later tells her that his father had been a member of the Hitler youth. She recalls their visit together to Dachau.

At Christmas time Estelle gives William a subscription to Ancestry. He is very disappointed with the gift and calls Lucy to complain. “This was the William who was tiresome to me, the petulant boy beneath his distinguished and pleasant demeanor…And when I hung up I thought: Thank G-d. And I meant about him being no longer mine.”

Despite Lucy’s humble background, William’s mother, Catherine had been very welcoming. “She was vibrant. Her face was often filled with light…I thought her house was remarkable…” But Catherine had a secret, and William and Lucy would discover that secret together.

Estelle leaves William and through her Ancestry gift, William learns that he has a half-sister. He asks Lucy to travel with him to Bangor Maine to learn more about his past and his half-sister. In Bangor, they learn a great deal about Catherine’s upbringing and history, which answers a lot of questions that they did not even know they had. “And then William begins to close down.”

Throughout the novel Lucy claims that she feels invisible. While giving a reading at a library to a lot of people, she thinks “…as I stood before all those people and read and answered questions, I still felt oddly—but very truly—invisible.”

The novel seems to be about the lifelong journey of getting to know yourself and getting to know someone else. The story is told in a unique style, moving back and forth through moments in time. This is a very enjoyable and thoughtful novel. Give it a try. You can reserve the novel at the Cuyahoga County Public Library by clicking here.

The Candy HouseThe Candy House is a simply amazing novel about the intrusive nature of evolving technology and the ever increasing importance of real human interaction. The novel is a companion to Egan’s Pulitzer prize winning “A Visit From the Goon Squad,” featuring some of the same characters and using interlocking narratives to tie the characters together.

The novel begins with Beresford (Bix) Bouton, famous for having created the “social media” business of Mandala, worrying over his next creation and longing for the days when he and his friends could sit together and trade ideas. Bix’s original social media idea came from Miranda Kline’s work “Patterns of Affinity,” where Kline introduces formulas for predicting human inclinations, requiring intimate knowledge of the person in question. Kline is not a fan of Bouton. “The fact that MK (as Kline was affectionately known in his world) deplored the uses Bix and his ilk had made of her theory only sharpened his fascination with her.”

In his search for open discussion to spur new ideas, Bix attends a small meeting at the apartment of Ted Hollander following a lecture by Miranda Kline. During the conversation (Bix was disguised as Walter Wad, a graduate student in electrical engineering) one of the group members mentions that she is working on externalizing an animal’s consciousness by uploading the animal’s perceptions using brain sensors. Soon thereafter arrives “The Collective Consciousness,” where individuals can share their externalized memories to the collective, by saving their memories (Own Your Unconscious), ultimately through a Mandala Consciousness Cube. Of course this technology creates an entire industry, including counters who are trying to create and quantify information, and eluders, who are trying, at a minimum, to evade the technology. “Never trust a candy house!”

Meanwhile, the novel focuses on a wide variety of interconnected characters, all of whom are differently impacted by technology and each other, because “things are more connected than they seem.” In a particularly harrowing segment of the novel Lulu becomes a “Citizen Agent,” where she uses her body to lure powerful men and obtain information for the government, albeit in an unofficial and unpaid capacity. As part of this role, Lulu has a wide variety of technology embedded in her brain, her eyes, her ears and elsewhere. There is a running commentary going through her head about her role and the steps she should be taking. The embedded technology is a camera, a recorder, a voice, an observer. This part of the novel is told in a unique style and highlights the potential intrusiveness of technology in our lives. And of course, this technology creates an underground industry of technology detection and removal. “A gain is a loss when it comes to technology.”

There is so much going on in this brilliant novel and so many different characters, all of whom are ingeniously interconnected and impacted by each other. The novel is complex and I cannot possibly include in this review everything, so you will have lots of surprises when you read “The Candy House.” But ultimately, the novel is a warning about the dangerous lure of technology and the importance of maintaining real living relationships. “…knowing everything is too much like knowing nothing; without a story, it’s all just information.” This novel is a wow! You can reserve it at the Cuyahoga County Public Library by clicking here.

Violeta“I was born in 1920, during the influenza pandemic, and I’m going to die in 2020, during the outbreak of coronavirus…I’ve lived a century and I have a good memory…I’ve witnessed many events. I’ve amassed a lot of experience, but either because I was too distracted or too busy, I haven’t acquired much wisdom. If reincarnation is real, I’ll have to return to earth to make up for what I’m lacking. It’s a terrifying prospect.”

“Violeta” is the story of the life of Violeta Del Valle during a century of great change. Violeta is telling the story in the form of a letter to Camilo, whom she “loves more than anyone in the world.”

Violeta is born into a family of wealth and prestige in a country in South America. Her father, Arsenio, amassed many business enterprises, unfortunately built on a foundation of debt and tax evasion. Violeta has five brothers, although four of them are not a part of the family story. Violeta’s oldest brother, Jose Antonio, 17 years older than Violeta, worked with their father in the family business.

Violeta, pampered and spoiled as a child, rapidly becomes uncontrollable. As a result, her father decides to hire an English Governess. Enter Josephine Taylor, referred to as Miss Taylor throughout the book. Miss Taylor is not at all what the family expected. She is young, thin, attractive and perhaps not exactly British. Violeta and the family come to adore her and she has a very positive impact on Violeta’s disposition and education. Jose Antonio falls in love with her and there follows numerous rejected proposals. Miss Taylor meets Teresa Rives, an outspoken feminist, who changes the lives of Miss Taylor and the Del Valle family in indelible ways.

The country goes into a deep depression along with the rest of the world and Arsenio’s house of cards begins to crumble. At the age of 11, Violeta finds her father in his office with a self-inflicted bullet to the head. The family is financially ruined and find themselves with nowhere to turn. Teresa Rives arranges for them to move to the country and live with her parents, Lucinda and Abel, retired teachers. The Del Valle family (mother, two aunts, brother and Torito) refer to this as “exile”, but learn to love the life and the Rives family. Lucinda and Abel travel across the area and provide teaching to children living in poverty with no access to education. When Violeta gets older, they take her with them to help.

Close to the Rives farm (called Santa Clara) is a community of German immigrants. Fabian Schmidt-Engler is the youngest son in a family of German immigrants. His father owns dairy farms and his mother and sisters run a hotel on the lake in an area popular with tourists. Fabian immediately falls for Violeta and after putting him off for many years she agrees to marry him. Fabian is a veterinarian and is kind but dull. Violeta immediately tires of him and then meets a man named Julian Bravo, a pilot as well as a man of many talents. They begin a passionate love affair, but Fabian refuses to annul their marriage. Violeta and Fabian have two children together, Juan Martin and Nieves. Juan Martin is a bookish unathletic child, a perpetual disappointment to his macho father. Nieves is a beautiful rebellious young girl and is spoiled rotten by her father.

Juan Martin goes on to study journalism and becomes the student body president and an outspoken critic of the opposition party. Nieves becomes a drug addicted disaster.

Julian Bravo moves in with Violeta but continues to have many women. He travels broadly, moving people and weapons on his various airplanes. Violeta goes into business with her brother building prefabricated homes and she becomes very wealthy. A lot happens in the book. The country goes through a violent coup and Juan Martin has to escape. Julian moves to Miami where he is working variously for the CIA, the mafia and other unsavory organizations. Violeta has many romances and changes in many ways throughout her 100 year existence. Through the unfolding of her story we learn the identity of Camilo and Camilo’s role in her life.

The story is wonderful, told with Isabel Allende’s usual sense of humor and insight. I highly recommend this novel. You can reserve it at the Cuyahoga County Public Library by clicking here.

The Lincoln Highway“The Lincoln Highway” is the story of a cast of characters who find themselves out on the road with intertwined stories. The story begins with 18 year old Emmett Watson. Emmett has just been released early from Salina, a workhouse for young men, where he had been sentenced to 18 months for killing Jimmy Snyder. He is released early and the warden drives him to his home in Nebraska, where he finds his neighbor, Mr. Ransom and the local banker waiting on him. The banker is there to foreclose on his home and Mr. Ransom is there, apparently, for moral support. Emmett’s father was a hard luck farmer who died while Emmett was at Salina. Emmett’s 8 year old brother, Billy, had been staying with the Ransom family. After Emmett ends business with the banker, Sally Ransom brings Billy home.

Billy is a very unusual youngster. When Emmett tells him they must leave Nebraska and head to Texas, Billy insists that they must go to California. Billy has determined that their mother, who left eight years earlier, is in San Francisco. He has reached this conclusion on the basis of a series of postcards she sent immediately after she left. The postcards reflect her travel down the Lincoln Highway until she reached San Francisco.

Billy carries a US army backpack where he holds everything of importance, including a valuable collection of silver dollars and his beloved book, Professor Abacus Abernathe’s Compendium of Heroes, Adventurers, and Other Intrepid Travelers. Emmett has a blue Studebaker which they will drive to leave Nebraska. Emmett looks in the trunk and sees that his father had hidden an envelope containing about one hundred fifty twenty dollar bills. Enough for them to start over.

As Billy and Emmett are getting reacquainted, Emmett looks up to find Duchess and Woolly standing in the door. The two had been his friends at Salina and had escaped in the trunk of the warden’s car. Emmett is happy to see them but not too happy that they have escaped before the end of their sentences. He tells them they need to go back but the two have other ideas. Woolly comes from a very wealthy background and they have decided they are going to travel to the family vacation home in the Adirondacks and take $150,000 out of the safe there. They intend the money to be split among the three of them. Emmett wants no part of this and tells them he is going to drive them to the greyhound station in Omaha.

On the drive to Omaha, the group takes a number of diversions, the first of which is to go onto the Lincoln Highway. Then Duchess asks that they stop in Lewis, Nebraska at an orphanage where he had lived (a previously unknown aspect of his life). Duchess disappears into the building and when he does not reappear after a period of time Emmett goes looking for him. When Emmett returns outside the Studebaker (and the money), Woolly and Duchess are gone. Billy is waiting for Emmett.

Woolly and Duchess have taken the car to Manhattan. Emmett decides that he and Billy have no choice but to follow them. Since they now have no money, they ride on a freighter train. Thus ensues a great adventure involving corrupt pastors, friendly hobos, the big role of Billy’s book, kind hearted prostitutes, Woolly’s amazing sister, Sally Ransom and Woolly’s wealth.

I know I should have liked this book. I liked the author’s previous two books, but this one not so much. The characters were unrealistic and contrived, the women seemed to be a peripheral male dominated afterthought and the ending was simply implausible and inconsistent with the prior 500 plus page buildup. The author actually summed up the way I felt about this book in a quote from one of the few women he thought to toss in: “From a man’s point of view, the one thing that’s needful is that you sit at his feet and listen to what he has to say, no matter how long it takes for him to say it, or how often he’s said it before.” That, in my opinion, sums up The Lincoln Highway. You can reserve this book at the Cuyahoga County Public Library by clicking here.