Book Report: The Lincoln Highway (or a Fine Way to Spend a Couple of Days Off)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

It’s been a while since I did a book report, but no, it’s not because it took me that long to read The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles (2021). I spent the last number of weeks knitting and reading magazines (and I admit, not reading very much of Oh, William, by Elizabeth Stroud, to savor it). This big, fat book of 500+ pages took me only three days to read, because once I started, I kept saying, “One more chapter…” many chapters in a row. Yeah, it was a good book.

Maybe there will be a volume 2 and they will finish going down the highway.

Once again, I am grateful to the Bobcat Book Club for deciding on a book that I’d never have chosen for myself based on its description. But y’all, if you want to take some time away from your troubles and go on a Heroic adventure about Heroic adventures, here’s a book for you! I can easily see this book becoming part of undergraduate humanities classes where you assign The Odyssey and every other epic journey…then conclude with this book and tell the kids to go write their term paper on the themes therein.

I give Amor Towles a lot of credit for building out the many heroes, both tragic and triumphant, who flow through the book, weaving and interweaving their stories and adventures into a big ole bundle of enchantment. You just can’t wait to find out who does what next or to fall deeply into the backstory that makes you think you’re suddenly in The Canterbury Tales. Geez, this book really IS like a long demo of all the forms of storytelling in Western Civilization, all presented in modern language. I’m glad Towles didn’t try to shorten the book by skimping on any of the stories. Stories are important, all of them, and that’s what he tried to convey in this book!

This is one of those kinds of books where you find yourself growing so fond of the characters that you don’t want it to end. They are all so multi-faceted, and of course, each hero has his or her own fatal flaw. You can draw a lot of lessons from them, too, like how people who are labeled “criminals” may well not be and people who label themselves as “good guys” may not be. A little bit of humanity makes a story a lot of fun and will get you through any overly contrived coincidences and improbably good timing.

I invite you to sit down and get to know Emmet, Billy, Duchess, Woolly, Sally, Sarah, Ulysses, Pastor John, the nuns, and of course, “Dennis,” the only completely unlikeable character in the whole book, who is never without his quotation marks. Adventure awaits!

(And hey, thanks to all of you who were so fascinated by photos of an old cabin that I had my biggest day of blog stats ever yesterday. I do know book reviews are not the big hit generators.)


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