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Table for Two by Amor Towles
Short stories

Table for Two

by Amor Towles

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Quick take

A collection of stories as elegant, indulgent, and timeless as a three-martini lunch. Go ahead, treat yourself.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MultipleNarrators

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Nyc

    NYC

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Glamorous

    Glamorous

Synopsis

Millions of Amor Towles fans are in for a treat as he shares some of his shorter fiction: six stories based in New York City and a novella set in Golden Age Hollywood.

The New York stories, most of which take place around the year 2000, consider the fateful consequences that can spring from brief encounters and the delicate mechanics of compromise that operate at the heart of modern marriages.

In Towles’s novel Rules of Civility, the indomitable Evelyn Ross leaves New York City in September 1938 with the intention of returning home to Indiana. But as her train pulls into Chicago, where her parents are waiting, she instead extends her ticket to Los Angeles. Told from seven points of view, “Eve in Hollywood” describes how Eve crafts a new future for herself—and others—in a noirish tale that takes us through the movie sets, bungalows, and dive bars of Los Angeles.

Written with his signature wit, humor, and sophistication, Table for Two is another glittering addition to Towles’s canon of stylish and transporting fiction.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Table for Two.
Table for Two

NEW YORK

The Line

1.

During the last days of the last Tsar, there lived a peasant named Pushkin in a small village one hundred miles from Moscow. Though Pushkin and his wife, Irina, had not been blessed with children, they had been blessed with a cozy two-​­room cottage and a few square acres that they farmed with the patience and persistence appropriate to their lot. Row by row they would till their soil, sow their seeds, and harvest their crops—moving back and forth across the land like a shuttle through a loom. And when their workday was done, they would journey home to dine on cabbage soup at their little wooden table, then succumb to the holy sleep of the countryside.

Though the peasant Pushkin did not share his namesake’s facility with words, he was something of a poet in his soul—and when he witnessed the leaves sprouting on the birch trees, or the thunderstorms of summer, or the golden hues of autumn, he would feel in his heart that theirs was a satisfactory life. In fact, so satisfactory was their life, had Pushkin uncovered an old bronze lantern while tilling the fields and unleashed from it an ancient genie with three wishes to grant, Pushkin wouldn’t have known what to wish for.

And we all know exactly where that sort of happiness leads.

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Why I love it

When I am introduced to spectacularly well-written characters, I find that they stay with me. Their stories become anecdotes I am tempted to pepper into conversations, as if they are friends-of-friends whose lives have become peripherally entwined with mine. And on the very off chance that an author decides to revisit these people in a new work, it feels like a class reunion, rife with satisfying emotional tension and redoubled curiosity.

In Table for Two, two-time BOTY finalist Amor Towles brings back to life the unforgettable Eva Ross from his masterpiece Rules of Civility. We see her through a brilliant kaleidoscopic lens of different side characters—a fellow train passenger, a hotel guest, an athlete at a bar—who all find themselves equally entranced by her glamor and poise against a backdrop of 1930s Hollywood. But for the uninitiated, there is plenty of new scenery here, too, as we travel from communist Russia to 1990s New York, Towles’s signature prose sweeping us across decades.

There really is something for everyone in this collection: vivid and unique characters; keen observations about marriage, status, and social class; and transporting descriptions of iconic settings. Towles has crafted a delicious cornucopia—indulge!

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