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East Side Story: A Novel Hardcover – December 2, 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; New title edition (December 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618452443
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618452446
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,060,938 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Venerated author Auchincloss serves up solid tales but few surprises in his 60th novel of upper-crust New York life. When retired nurse Loulou Carnochan begins to compile the history of the Carnochan clan in the 1960s, she admits that she is "planning a species of novel with what was at best a collection of short stories," and indeed, the book has the feeling of a collection of family anecdotes. Scottish thread merchant David emigrated to the United States in the 1830s; Eliza, the wife of David's eldest son, secretly loves David's youngest, a Civil War hero; Bruce, a son of Eliza's, chooses security over romance in marriage; Gordon and David, two cousins of the succeeding generation, play out a dynamic of power and idealism that will be repeated in their sons' generation. Occasionally, every Carnochan seems to be hiding either a thwarted romanticism or an amoral cynicism under a layer of respectable Christian business sense. However, the author knows a thousand variations on his theme of social hypocrisy, and he's at his best when he allows his characters to complicate their two-dimensional roles; it is these moments that justify his reputation as a pre-eminent chronicler of American life.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

Auchincloss's sixtieth book is a novel of power and hypocrisy in upper-class New York that, like much of his previous fiction, focusses on the agonizing conflict between America's proudly Protestant face and its tawdry capitalist backside. The book consists of eleven linked portraits chronicling the rise of the fiercely Presbyterian Carnochan family, from Old World Scottish thread merchants in Colonial America to lawyers, bankers, and business tycoons in the modern era. The Carnochan men follow their forebears to Yale and, with a few exceptions, to worldly success. But, dedicated to little more than "their own permanence," they also expose the moral bankruptcy of their class. Auchincloss, who is eighty-seven, and himself something of a Gotham patrician, casts a chilly eye upon the American empire that families like the Carnochans helped to build.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on November 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In his fifty-ninth novel in fifty-seven years, Louis Auchincloss continues his thematic focus on the socially prominent families of New York and how they achieved their status. Beginning with David Carnochan, an immigrant from Scotland, a "good burgher with a sharp eye for a deal," who was "a granite pillar of respectability," Auchincloss traces the family through ten characters belonging to four generations, as they successively increase their fortunes and cement their places in the highest echelons of New York society.

The family's pragmatism is shown when Douglas Carnochan purchases a substitute during the Civil War, while his abolitionist brother Andrew fights, is wounded, and returns to the front. Douglas's wife Eliza imposes "standards in manners and morals" on the family, and son Bruce shows how marriages are negotiated when the family's fortunes begin to fail. The reader observes the vulnerability of the family's most idealistic members, as pressure is exerted on them to remember the interests of the family and its businesses as a whole and to ignore the sometimes unethical behavior of relatives.

With the characters' public and private moralities sometimes shown to be at odds, an individual family member's corporate interests often take precedence over what one would consider to be morally "right" behavior toward others. Even the family's penchant for attending the same elite schools is put under the microscope, as is the tendency to keep the wealth in the family by intermarrying with distant cousins.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on March 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Auchincloss continues to amaze me. When I saw this book in the "new fiction" stack at the library, I was astounded, since I would have thought the author would have either passed away, or at least stopped writing, a long long time ago. He began publishing his books almost 60 years ago. Although I share neither the class nor the education of this author, I have always found his books as beautiful as perfectly polished stones. They do not "live" in the way some fiction does, yet you can never forget his characters. This book is no different. It is a sort of chronicle of a family's history, starting in Scotland before the American Civil War, through immigration and settling here in the states. Each generation is seen and described by certain members of that generation. This could be very dry, yet it never fails to entertain. Golly, Mr. Auchincloss! I hope you are still serving up these books in another 20 years! Keep writing!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Robert Kalabus on February 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
If written by a different author, this generational saga might have been a heavy doorstop of a book. Auchincloss, however, made it a series of short story-like chapters illuminating the characters of twelve members of an East Side (Manhattan) family from the late 1800s to the 1970s in less than 230 pages. The name of each person written about is listed in bold text on a family tree printed on the back of the contents page. Auchincloss is a master writer who draws you in and makes you care about every character one after another. I disagree with one of the critics on Amazon of Auchincloss' last book, _The Scarlet Letters_ who said his style is wooden and his story-telling skills haven't progressed in 50 years. I think his last two books are among his best.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D. Blankenship HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on May 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I must begin by stating that the world Mr. Achincloss writes of is as alien and as far removed from my world as a world created by a SiFi writer. It is far removed from my world culturely, geographically and philosophically. That is okay though. This little book is a true pearl. Each chapter is a wonderfully crafted sketch of various members of an elite New York family, starting just before the Civil War. Mr Auchincloss certainly has a wonderful command of the language and is certainly a true story teller. This is one of those books that you can read sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph and relish each and every one, almost as a separate entity. I found the writing style easy on the eye and mind and the entire flow of the book was true to itself from beginning to end. A wonderful read and I highly recommend. You probably will want to purchase this one as it deserves more than one read.
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