With Rules of Civility (Viking, July), Amor Towles follows two young women making their way in 1938 New York City. A chance meeting with an enigmatic young businessman launches the pair into areas of society heretofore closed, where they encounter characters both charming and repellent. With echoes of Fitzgerald, Towles's debut evokes the era of prewar Manhattan, from the workplace politics of a law office to the alcohol-fueled lawn party of the Long Island gin-and-horses set. The dialogue is witty without being self-aware, the characters finely drawn, with scenes alternately comic and heartbreaking. The voice of the narrator, Katey, is so clever and the characters so appealing that the novel, against its genre, is a page-turner. A story about how choices made in an instant can produce a ripple effect on a lifetime, this is the sort of novel in which one highlights sentences in order to share the many quotable bits.