Set in 1938, this book is about Kate Kontent, a smart, confident, woman who is mostly alone except for her friendship with Eve. They meet Tinker Grey at a jazz club on New Year's Eve. Tinker is drawn to Kate, but he is thrown into a relationship with Eve after she suffers major injuries when the roadster Tinker's driving crashes into a milk truck.
As guilt-ridden Tinker tries to make amends to Eve, Kate thrives in the New York of 1938. She starts as a secretary at a law firm, then moves on to the publishing world. She reads Walden, visits museums and clubs, and hangs out with a host of new friends while Eve and Tinker live in the world of the upper class. My favorite scene is when Kate quits her job, buys a lovely new dress, then takes herself to a fancy restaurant to spend the last of her money. It's heartbreaking to watch such a fun scene turn into a cathartic resurrection of sorts. Kate is a character you won't easily forget.
Towles is an intelligent writer, but his style is breezy rather than erudite. Tinker reminded me of Gatsby. The novel rides the chasm between classes which reminds you of today while echoing the past.