Stories of upper-class Americans, at home and abroad.
Stories of upper-class Americans of the twentieth century.
A Backward Glance is Edith Wharton's vivid account of both her public and her private life. With richness and delicacy, it describes the sophisticated New York society in which Wharton spent her youth, and chronicles her travels throughout Europe and her literary success as an adult. Beautifully depicted are her friendships with many of the most celebrated artists and writers of her day, including her close friend Henry James. In his introduction to this edition, Louis Auchincloss calls the writing in A Backward Glance "as firm and crisp and lucid as in the best of her novels." It is a memoir that will charm and fascinate all readers of Wharton's fiction.
Stories about upper society, usually in and around New York City at the beginning of the twentieth century.
The offices, penthouses, and suburban chateaux of New York are the setting for Louis Auchincloss's The Dark Lady. Spanning three decades from the 1930s to the McCarthy era, the novel chronicles a powerful woman's rise and the human toll it exacts. In a world where birth and style count nearly as much as wealth, Elesina Dart is supremely equipped to star. Lovely, well-born, bright, even moderately talented as an actress, Elesina seems perversely bent on canceling out these advantages. After two destructive marriages and an affair with alcohol, she is close to low ebb when Ivy Trask takes heron. Ivy's business is the exercise of power, as editor of the fashion-arbitrating Tone magazine and in her own loveless life. In Elesina, she finds material worthy of her best efforts. Stage-managed by Ivy, Elesina makes a widely successful and equally scandalous match with Judge Irving Stein, banker, connoisseur, collector -- and old enough to know better, as all who are close to him point out. Mistress of Broad-lawns, living's Westchester estate, and caretaker of his fabulous art collection are roles Elesina takes in stride. Forall his riches and influence, Irving is a man of deep sensibility, a romantic -- as is David, his attractive youngest son, whose passion for his stepmother leads to tragic consequences. Inevitably, husband, lover, and friend all fall victim to Elesina's need for the center stage, which she has come to see as her manifest destiny. In this major new novel, Louis Auchincloss examines the many faces of ambition and desire that rule both the schemers and dreamers of fashionable society. It is a story that only Auchincloss, with his exceptional knowledge and insight, could write.
Bob Service, the protagonist of this deft and chilling novel of contemporary ambition and greed, is a thirty-two-year-old crack lawyer with blood as cold and clear as a five-dollar martini. Bob's god is power and his morals are ever tempered by expediency. His goals far exceed an imminent partnership in a big New York law firm.Bob's "perfect' marriage to the graceful and intelligent Alice is no match for the ardor of his corporate drive. And it certainly pales beside his explosive affair with Sylvia, whose naked ambition matches his own and whose social connections provide the ultimate bridge to the pinnacles of success.How Bob Service marches toward his fate while trampling on his associates and crippling his marriage forms the plot of this fast-paced novel about modern mores and life on the fast track of the big law firms. Office intrigue and duels for power rival anything that Machiavelli could have conjured up. And in Louis Auchincloss's hands, it all has an unnerv-ingly authentic ring. Louis Auchincloss began his law career at a Wall Street firm after attending Yale and the University of Virginia Law School. He is a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and president of the Museum of the City of New York. This is his thirty-eighth book, the most recent being The Book Class and Honorable Men.
"Louis Auchincloss has an enveloping story to tell and a perfect, understated knowledge of those who inhabit it," said the New York Times of The Scarlet Letters. The same can be said of Auchincloss's new novel, a tour de force that charts the rise of one uncommon family in America's grand city. How did the families who live on Manhattan's Upper East Side get to where they are today? As much a penetrating social history as it is engaging fiction, East Side Story tells of the Carnochans, a family whose Scottish forebears establish themselves in New York's textile business during the Civil War. From there they quickly move on to seize prominent positions in the country's top schools and Manhattan's elite firms. As the novel unfolds, family members across the generations recount their stories, illuminating lives steeped in both good fortune and moral jeopardy. From women who outsmart their foolish husbands, to ambitious lawyers who protect the Carnochan name, to the family's artists and writers, all weigh the question that infuses so much of Auchincloss's fiction: what makes for a meaningful life in a family that has so much? In its starred review, Kirkus Reviews hails Auchincloss for being "once again the master of his craft." East Side Story is both a loving and wicked look at New York's own as only this sublime master of manners can provide.
In this wise and masterly novel, Louis Auchincloss gives us a man who takes the measure of himself - and his times - with the art and insight of a new Henry Adams. Linking three generations of a Wall Street law firm, The Education of Oscar Fairfax provides a revealing portrait of the American upper classes throughout our century. The story opens in 1908, as St. Luke's Cathedral rises stone by stone on lower Broadway and young Oscar learns a lesson in compromise at the knee of its bishop, his grandfather. His schooling continues at St. Augustine's, where he sees a schoolmaster's high ideals exposed as fantasy, and at Yale, where Oscar's literary ambitions are tempered by a brilliant but ruthless classmate who proves that "the juiciest tidbit for many a writer is the hand that fed him." As an adult, Oscar is one who profoundly affects others, whether he is subtly influencing a Supreme Court justice during the New Deal era, acting as mentor to a talented local boy in a Maine resort town,
Like Francis Prescott in The Rector of Justin, Guy Prime enjoyed the distinction of having become a legend in his lifetime. But in Guy's case, the legend is one of betrayal and infamy. For the scandal of his embezzlement brought down the delicately balanced structure of the Stock Exchange. The long-honored system of self-government by mutual trust among gentlemen came to an end with the default of one of its brightest stars. The story of Guy's fall is told by the three persons most intimately concerned: Guy himself, Rex Geer, his closest friend, and Angelica, his wife. We see him first through his own eyes -- embittered, oddly proud of his peculiar distinction, and entirely unrepentant -- the golden boy, the Wall Street manipulator, and finally the old man determined to justify himself to the grandchildren he will never see.Rex and Angelica in turn pick up the same threads of the story, but the threads change color subtly as they pass through different hands. In the end, the reader must decide for himself which is the real Guy Prime. Louis Auchincloss brings to the financial world the same authority and understanding he brought to the worlds of the law (Powers of Attorney), the private school (The Rector of Justin), and the old families of New York (Portrait in Brownstone). Virgilia Peterson, writing in the New York Times Book Review, called The Rector of Justin "not only a passionately interesting, but a spiritually important study of the American character of, and for our time." Her words hold true for The Embezzler.
With his customary wit, humor, and irony, along with a fine sense of the period, Louis Auchincloss artfully brings to life an exciting and dramatic facet of eighteenth-century England. On the Continent, John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, is laying waste to the lowlands in a bloody combat with Louis XIV At the British court, Queen Anne, aging, ill, and surrounded by sycophants, is coping with the intrigues of those who wish to promote Marlborough's dangerous ambitions. Chief among the plotters is his headstrong wife (and court favorite), Sarah Churchill.Into this tense and steamy environment comes young Abigail Hill, Sarah's impoverished cousin. Sarah has arranged for her to be a maid to the Queen. But Abigail will discover that she has been marked by destiny for a special mission, which is nothing less than to bring to a halt a bloody and destructive world war. How she accomplishes this is the subject of this unusual but historically justified tale.The drama of court life and high politics, the growing antagonism between Sarah and Abigail, and an engaging cast of characters make for a lively narrative. And the portrait of Queen Anne is a tour de force that lends further depth to this vivid and engaging book.
In this elegant collection of stories, Louis Auchincloss once again evokes the beguiling, complex world of New York society that he has made his own special literary landscape. Inspired by the colorful mosaic of ancient Greek myths, he has created six equally rich contemporary fables -- six lives governed by false gods.Hermes, or in Auchincloss's ironic interpretation, "god of the self-made man," is a Jewish lawyer who finds acceptance into WASP society only at greatest personal cost; Hephaestus is a bachelor designer of Palladian villas whose young bride, enamored of newfangled things, compels him to "go modern." In other stories, a former World War II naval officer, guided perhaps by the goddess Athene, escapes a sinking cruise ship by disguising himself as a woman; and a Catholic convert, distracted by the muse Polyhymnia, is torn between his priestly duties and his worldly social and artistic ambitions.In every tale a unique moral sensibility holds sway, revealing how the pagan impulse may surface in the most unlikely and provocative situations, compromising even the noblest of spirits. Keenly insightful, flawlessly executed, False Gods is the work of a master storyteller, widely acclaimed as American society's most entertaining and intelligent critic.
In a world of opulent museums, lavish homes and extravagant dreams, public spectacle pales before private intrigue, and the pursuit of power is the finest art. Welcome to the world of mater storyteller Louis Auchincloss...
In The Headmaster's Dilemma, Louis Auchincloss revisits the prep school world of his most famous novel. That book, The Rector of Justin, published in 1964, took the form of a fictional biography, giving the reader the full life story of a much beloved and revered, if also feared, headmaster of an exclusive New England prep school. In The Headmaster's Dilemma, we see up close what happens when a school's ideals and founding principles collide with the exigencies of change.The Headmaster's Dilemma is the story of Michael Sayre, the handsome, avant-garde headmaster of Averhill, the great New England prep school as he is faced with a school administrator's worst nightmare: a lawsuit brought by fervent parents in response to an incident involving their son and an upperclassman. To make matters worse, Michael is losing support from both the board of trustees -- led by the conniving Donald Spencer -- and senior faculty members. With the help of his supportive wife, Michael attempts to right these wrongs, while keeping Averhill's best interests in mind.
From one of America's greatest men of letters, our sublime master of manners, comes his long-awaited new novel, HER INFINITE VARIETY. Louis Auchincloss has been called "our most astute observer of moral paradox among the affluent" (Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.), his fiction described as that which "has always examined what makes life worth living" (Washington Post Book World). Now he brings us the rollicking tale of an unforgettable woman of mid-twentieth century America: the devilish, forever plotting, yet wholly beguiling Clara Hoyt. A romantic early in life, Clara gets engaged -- much to her mother's horror -- to the lackluster Bobbie Lester. Soon after her Vassar graduation, however, Clara sees the error of her ways, spurns Bobbie, and slyly enthralls the well-bred and fabulously wealthy Trevor Hoyt, the first of her husbands. Soon she lands a job at a tony magazine, and so begins her wildly entertaining course to the inner sanctum of New York's aristocracy and into the boardrooms of the publishing world.In a world where women still had to wield the weapons of allure and charm, above all else, to secure positions of power, Clara, one of the last of her kind, succeeds marvelously. Auchincloss gives us, in Clara, an irresistible Cleopatra, lovely, wily, and mercurial. As Shakespeare wrote of that feminine creation, "Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale / Her infinite variety."
In his newest novel Louis Auchincloss explores the circumstances under which America's "best and brightest," or at least richest and most socially secure, came to such grief over the moral issues of our time. Chip Benedict appeared to have the best of everything: wealth, education, good looks, charm, and intelligence. Shortly before entering law school, he married Alida, a pale beauty with the slinky attractiveness of the day. But Alida had more than physical beauty. She had the cunning and talent to become the debutante of the year, thereby escaping the progressively threadbare world of tarnished elegance and unpaid bills to which she was born. Alida's life continued in a storybook fashion with her marriage to Chip, a seemingly perfect and certainly honorable man. Called to serve in World War II, he returned a hero, decorated for bravery at the Normandy landing. Following in his father's footsteps, he became chairman of the board of the prestigious Benedict Glass Company founded by his grandfather. And yet, with all of his gifts, Chip is haunted by dark guilt that drives him to excel, conform, and embrace a righteousness that he fails to perceive as hypocrisy. In business he becomes the perfect corporate executive: forward-looking, ambitious, lauded in Fortune 2nd Forbes. Chip serves his community, supports the arts, and patriotically honors his government. But when it comes to choosing sides on the issue of Vietnam, he makes a decision that casts aside the deepest ties and loyalties of his life. How Chip Benedict comes to terms with himself and with those whose lives are entwined with his leads to an ending filled with irony that will keep the reader speculating long after the book is closed.
This is a story of guilt and expiation by one of the modern American masters of the novel. The time is right now and the place is Manhattan, with an occasional trip to the country where the rich and those on the way up repair for weekends and holidays. Tony Lowder is the able and good-looking grandson of an Irish immigrant who prospered as a contractor and left behind a family that has been running downhill. Except Tony, who has a promising future in politics. He has married the only child of an old, correct New York family, he and Lee have two normally difficult children, and she tolerates her husband's continuing affair with wealthy Joan Conway, who was Tony's mistress before his marriage. There is always pressure for more money, and it has become acute with a drop in the market. The novel is a brilliant exploration of what happens to the inner experience as well as the surface relationships of these sophisticated and intelligent people when the agony of temptation, not resisted, makes its way into the center of their lives. The temptation emerges from a brokerage house under investigation and some Mafia figures ready to pay for a slight change in timing that may rescue the firm. What follows shocks the city and drives these people against each other even as it involves them more deeply. Behind his intimate knowledge of the world of lofty social position and power, Louis Auchincloss's basic concern is with the human being shaped through problems of moral choice. He follows the intricate paths that his characters must trace with the skillful ease that makes an absorbing story. All the while he is reaching toward a fundamental question of what happens to people when their loyalties are put under unexpected acute pressure, particularly to the man who loves everyone the same.
A short but provocative book on the way these two playwrights deal with Rome.
In what may be his finest novel since The Rector of Justin, Louis Auchincloss offers his richest portrait yet of the manners and mores of the Establishment world he knows so well. The lady of situations is Natica Chauncey, the daughter of a ruined financier who is forced to rely on a kindly matron for her glancing acquaintance with the aristocracy of Long Island. But Natica is too clear-sighted to pretend that such a life, as much as it dazzles her, would satisfy her intellect. Coming of age at a time when anything more than a modest show of ambition does not become a lady, she must seek her own fortune in the fortunes of others. And so, with little more than her wits and determination, she makes her way through the social shoals of New England prep schools, Hudson Valley estates, and New York drawing rooms. Natica sees herself as a Bronte sister "without the moors and without the genius"; her doting Aunt Ruth, a woman of less imagination but considerably more compassion, would contend merely that she has "an attractive personality and a first-class mind." But Natica has one thing more: a gift for finding opportunity in improbable situations, even at the risk of scandal. Almost in spite of herself, she emerges as an unlikely, and unforgettable, femme fatale. Shrewd, observant, and always graceful, The Lady of Situations is Auchincloss at his best, the work of a master storyteller.
HERE IS A CHARMING BOOK OF BELLES lettres from the shrewd and witty stylist whom Susan Cheever has called "one of the best writers alive." This delightful series of short essays explores friendship in its various forms -- from true intimacy to professional detente between rivals. The friendships, literary and political, span two continents and three centuries -- Boswell and Johnson, Fitzgerald and Hemingway, Richelieu and Father Joseph, FDR and Harry Hopkins, Edith Wharton and Margaret Chanler -- sixteen sketches in all. Auchincloss approaches his subjects with grace, tact, and insight, subtly defining the peculiar, gentle chemistry on which pla-tonic bonds depend. The result is a surprising array of social patterns and personal destinies, all stemming from the simple desire for human company.
Information about the following authors: CYRIL TOURNEUR, PROSPER MERIMEE, ANNE BRONTE, DUMAS fils, LORD BRYCE, WALTER PATER, JOHN WALTER CROSS, HENRY JAMES, SARAH ORNE JEWETT, ROBERT GRANT, THE ABBE MUGNIER, F. MARION CRAWFORD, HAROLD FREDERIC, PAUL HERVIEU, ROBERT HERRICK, AMY LOWELL, L. COMPTON-BURNETT, ELINOR WYLIE, HAROLD NICOLSON, MAXWELL ANDERSON, S. N. BEHRMAN, ROBERT E. SHERWOOD and Iris Origo.
He is our sublime master of manners, our "most astute observer of moral paradox among the affluent" (Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.), and "one of the essential American writers" (Kirkus). Now, in his fifty-seventh book, Louis Auchincloss delivers a brilliant collection of ten new, previously unpublished, stories; once again, he unfailingly "voices truths with elegant precision" (Publishers Weekly). MANHATTAN MONOLOGUES charts a colorful New York century through a series of personal accounts from the rarefied circle that fills Auchincloss's best short fiction. Here are characters who confidently finesse their way through society's uppermost tiers and yet are just as easily undone by the smallest upset in a day. Like all of Auchincloss's richest creations, they bump up against their consciences, with often surprising results. What, for instance, is a woman to do when she must choose between true love and high society when making a marriage? How can a man stay true to himself, his family, and his country when it goes to war? How can a determined marriage broker salvage matters when the young man she has so painstakingly steered toward a love match becomes charmed by another woman? These tales, and many more, fashion a glamorous, yet all too human, societal portrait -- from the aristocratic loyalties of the early twentieth century to the complicated twists of modern-day mergers and acquisitions. MANHATTAN MONOLOGUES is Louis Auchincloss at his most clever, his most discerning, his best.
Louis Auchincloss, known to most people as the author of best-selling novels, is also a practicing lawyer. InPowers of Attorneyhe combines his two vocations in a graphic and authoritative account of the internal workings of a big New York law office. Each of the twelve episodes which make up the book concerns a member of the fictional firm of Tower, Tilncy & Webb and their plots are interwoven as inevitably as are the lives of the characters involved. Clitus Tilney, the senior partner, has set his stamp on the firm. He is responsible for the growth that makes envious competitors refer to it as a "law factory" and responsible too for the retention of ethical principles considered old-fashioned by certain of his colleagues. The realm he rules is contained in two floors of a vast new office building on Wall Street, and it is there that most of the rivalries, victories, disappointments, and compromises are worked out, to the satisfaction of Mr. Tilney and of the reader. Mr. Auchincloss's understanding of human relations in general and the ramifications of the law in particular expose in clear relief the maneuverings and power struggles of a group of people disparate in all but their calling: Harry Reilly, the bright young man from Brooklyn; Rutherford Tower, last of the founding family; Mrs. Abercrombie, whose forty years with the firm give her a special status; Chambers Todd, driven to questionable tactics by his insatiable ambition; and many others. Mr. Auchincloss guides us through the byways of the legal world glimpsed in his earlier novel,The Great World and Timothy Colt. With superb craftsmanship, he shows us the denizens of this world in all their human and often touching frailty, balancing humor with warmth, incisiveness with tolerance. This is a book to savor and to lend only to those who can be trusted to return it.
With such classic works as The Rector of Justin and, more recently, Manhattan Monologues, Louis Auchincloss has long established himself as one of our "most useful and intelligent writers" (New York Observer). Now this American master offers his cleverest novel yet: a triumphant modern twist on the legendary Hawthorne tale, in which secrets, sin, and suspense collide among the fabulously rich. The year is 1953, and the coastal village of Glenville, on the opulent north shore of Long Island, is shaken by scandal. Ambrose Vollard, the managing partner of a prestigious Wall Street law firm, gets word of an alleged affair in his family. Most astonishing, the adulterer is Rodman Jessup, Vollard's son-in-law, junior partner, and most likely successor. Until now Jessup has been admired for his impeccable morals and high ideals, so what could explain his affair with a woman of fading charms? All is on the line for Jessup, who threatens to upset Glenville's carefully calibrated social order. As each family member learns of the affair, the story reveals layer upon layer of abiding loyalties and shameless double-crossing. Wise, rich, and exuberantly entertaining, The Scarlet Letters posts a seductive missive to anyone ever tempted by power, wealth, or passion.
It's only twelve miles long and two miles wide, but it has more money for its area, more history packed into its relatively brief settlement, and more emotional and intellectual energy coursing through its streets than any other place on earth. Manhattan is the setting for all of Louis Auchincloss's fiction, and it is the stage on which those New Yorkers whose roots go down to its bedrock play out the drama of their lives.From the turn of the century to our present urban follies, these stories follow the fortunes of the socially secure and powerful as they try to cope with the changes shaped by the momentous events and growing anxieties of recent decades. Taken together, the tales weave a larger pattern of human strengths and foibles that bemuses the mind and touches the heart.The elegant prose, crystalline dialogue, immense insight into the mores, preoccupations, and afflictions of the rich, and the connoisseur's sense of both art and life that are characteristic of Auchincloss--all are here, but with a depth of passion and irony exceeding anything he has accomplished in the past.
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