Review: Eve in Hollywood by Amor Towles

In his debut novel, Rules of Civility, Amor Towles plunged his readers headlong into the dirty and decadent world of 1930s Manhattan where we met the unforgettable Katey Kontent, her fiery friend Evelyn Ross, and the charming Tinker Grey. Katey was a larger-than-life protagonist, dominating the story with the trials and triumphs of one life-changing year in the big city; but with Eve in Hollywood, Towles’s new e-novella, it’s finally Evelyn’s turn to take the spotlight. Told through six luminous stories, each following a different character, Eve in Hollywood picks up where we last saw Eve – on a train home to Chicago; but a retreat home soon turns into an adventure to Los Angeles, where the possibilities are endless. Through her interactions with strangers – from bamboozling a paparazzo to finding friendship in one particularly spunky Olivia de Havilland – we perceive just what happened to Eve after Rules of Civility ended. Eve in Hollywood is a short and breezy read that lingers with just enough contemplative grace to keep Eve’s story from feeling even slightly rushed. Much as I would delight in reading a full-length novel about the unapologetic and brassy Eve, Towles’s novella was an aptly conceived solo for her: a bold, elaborate telling in a delightfully straightforward package. Eve has no qualms filling Katey’s shoes as a heroine. While in Rules of Civility she stood easily as a monumental character, in these stories it’s wonderful to see not only a bit of her future, but also the results of her interactions with others. I enjoyed that each story follows someone else as they first meet Eve, giving us dose after dose of what a firecracker this girl is and how she affects the people she encounters – perhaps unbeknownst to herself, or perhaps the results of her sly, remarkable intuition. However she does it, Eve manages to be the star in other characters’ personal narratives, which makes for a creative approach to her story. Every character brought to life in the book, from the fictional to the real-life portraits of the era, are all memorable. I enjoyed Prentice Symmons, a haunted and self-deprecating former star of the screen who befriends Eve at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and the narrative generated in the story following cynical paparazzo Litsky was a stand-out moment. Likewise, the depictions of Oliva de Havilland and David O. Selznick were fabulously achieved.

I’m also reminded of how much I enjoyed Towles’s prose the first time around; he has a way of writing with both opulence and minimalism simultaneously that keeps me riveted to the pages. It’s especially fun when an author’s style of writing offers an entertainment all its own. I find his use of language engaging and always sparking with a certain kind of energy unique to him; one perhaps powered by the hard-edged glamour of the age in which his stories are set, and by the soaring personalities of the women of his creation – first Katey, and now Eve.

Title: Eve in Hollywood Author: Amor Towles Genre: literary fiction, historical Publisher: Penguin Release date: June 25, 2013 Source: Personal collection Buy the book: Kindle | Nook Connect with the author: Website | Facebook

Eve in Hollywood