Katey Kontent (It’s Kon-tent...like the state of being) works in a dead-end job as a secretary on Wall Street, but her life is saved from tedium by her daring roommate, Eve, and their friend, Tinker Grey, a charismatic soul whose life is dedicated to remaining in the orbits of the well-known and the well-heeled.
An accidental New Year’s Eve meeting in a Greenwich Village jazz club results in the girls’ getting to know Tinker, and a horrific yet serendipitous event insures their mutual connection. As Casper, the waiter at the 21 Club observes, “Friends are the envy of the angels.”
Eve is all emotion and, while she too has her daring moments, Katey is basically an onlooker and a recorder of her milieu. That environment is New York City in 1938 whose upscale areas (the places the three friends seek out) have all the Gatsbyesque glamour of a Cole Porter song. Katey and friends lead social lives defined by music and martinis, and they collect friends with names like Dicky and Bitsy who have weekend parties as glossy and sophisticated as the magazines published by Conde-Nast - Katey’s employer after she gets the nerve to flee Wall St.
Katey, Brooklyn born and originally christened Katya, applies her work ethic and chutzpa to chart her own course among those who make things happen, and she begins to make a few things happen herself! Tinker and Eve leave (but only for a while and they never lose contact) and the friendships keep evolving without dissolving.
Although the lives of this trio fascinate, the real star of the novel is New York City. Mr. Towels’s gift of description keeps a movie running though the reader’s mind - one that might star Katherine Hepburn as Katey, Carole Lombard, as Eve and Robert Taylor as Tinker. (If you’re too young for this information - there’s always Google!) The byword for the characters and their city must certainly be what appears above the elevator doors at Tinker’s upscale digs: FRONTA NULLA FIDES. (Place no trust in appearances.) Katey’s comment? “I’ll say!”
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