Set in the 1950's, this novel is the story of Emmett Watson and his brother Billy. Emmett has just been released from a juvenile camp where he was sent after a fight had tragic consequences. While he was away, his father died and Billy, who is eleven, is left alone. Emmett comes home, determined to do right by Billy. The two of them decide to move to California and start over, looking for the mother who left them when Billy was just a baby.
But fate has other plans. Two of the other camp inhabitants, Duchess and Woolly, had snuck in the warden's trunk and escaped. They ask Emmett to take them to New York where they both have ties. Woolly has a mind that works differently than other peoples'. Although he came from a rich family, he just can't seem to settle into the world as it is. Duchess came from poverty, his father an actor who lived from show to show, drinking when he wasn't acting. Both men want to see their families again.
Along the way, there are many adventures and many other people are met. But Emmett remains steadfast and determined, Billy retains his youthful spirit of adventure, Duchess is determined to make amends or extract retribution with those from his past and Woolly is along for the ride. There is also Sally, the woman Emmett left behind and had planned to marry.
I can't imagine Amor Towles writing a bad book. This is another wonderful one with the love of the brothers setting the ground rock on which the novel is written. It explores family, friendship and what one owes the past. Each of the characters is memorable and the reader will have a hard time deciding which is their favorite. This book is recommended for literary fiction readers.
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