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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.
An intimate portrait of the first president of the 20th century
The American century opened with the election of that quintessentially American adventurer, Theodore Roosevelt. Louis Auchincloss's warm and knowing biography introduces us to the man behind the many myths of Theodore Roosevelt. From his early involvement in the politics of New York City and then New York State, we trace his celebrated military career and finally his ascent to the national political stage. Caricatured through history as the "bull moose," Roosevelt was in fact a man of extraordinary discipline whose refined and literate tastes actually helped spawn his fascination with the rough-and-ready worlds of war and wilderness.
Bringing all his novelist's skills to the task, Auchincloss briskly recounts the significant contributions of Roosevelt's career and administration. This biography is as thorough as it is readable, as clear-eyed as it is touching and personal.
Ambition, jealousy, desire, hatred, deceit—they’re all there inside the Wall Street law offices of Tower, Tilney & Webb, the setting for these interwoven stories set in the 1960s from Louis Auchincloss, who practiced law while also writing acclaimed and bestselling fiction.
Senior partner Clitus Tilney is not about to let a detestable, hard-drinking partner make a mockery of all he’s worked for. Harry Reilley is a clerk who pines for Tilney’s daughter. Jake Platt is an associate willing to do whatever it takes to achieve his goals, including setting a rival up for failure. Rutherford Tower struggles with the fact that he owes his position with the firm to nepotism and not hard work. And then there’s Mrs. Abercrombie, who’s waiting for her sixty-fifth birthday, when she plans to retire—and get her revenge.
These twelve linked stories capture the struggles, rivalries, victories, disappointments, and compromises in the day-to-day lives of lawyers, and a portrait of professional men and women in mid-century New York.
Whether set in the world of Wall Street, the nineteenth-century Virginia aristocracy, or a boys’ school in New England, the short stories of Louis Auchincloss reveal a remarkable insight into the things that drive us and make us human. In this volume, the author collects a wide range of his finest work, taking us on a journey through decades of outstanding short fiction.
“Spanning more than 40 years, this collection attests to Auchincloss’s durable talents: flawless prose, keen social observation, and a refined moral sensibility. The compromises between society and the individual, art and commerce, ego and restraint all figure into his finest fictions. Arranged chronologically, the 19 selections together suggest the author’s profound sense of American history, with all of its political and social eruptions. He seems to have emerged as a writer fully formed, since the earliest pieces here prove as supple and graceful as his most recent. . . . Auchincloss schools us in all the social differences we’re taught don’t exist. . . . Further proof, if any is needed, that Auchincloss ranks among the best in American literature.” —Kirkus Reviews
Widely considered Louis Auchincloss’s greatest novel, The Rector of Justin is an astute dissection of the social mores of the Northeast’s privileged establishment. The story centers on Rev. Frank Prescott, the charismatic founder and rector of a prestigious Episcopal school for boys. With laser-sharp insight, Auchincloss delivers a prismatic portrait of this commanding and complicated man through the eyes of those who knew—or thought they knew—him best.
Seamlessly interweaving multiple points of view—from an adoring teacher to that of a rebellious daughter—The Rector of Justin presents a social history of the eighty years of his life: the sources of his virtues and failings, his successes, his love, and his crises of faith.
As Jonathan Yardley put it in the Washington Post, “Auchincloss is one of the most accomplished and distinctive writers this country has known . . . [and] Frank Prescott is one of the great characters in American fiction.”
“A daring and ambitious book . . . Its poise and taste and intelligence strike one on every page, as do its unerring knowledge and literary skill.” —The New Yorker
“[The Rector of Justin] should sit on the shelf of any serious reader of American fiction.” —Jay Parini, The New York Observer
“A taut and elegant study of a distinguished American whose closest friends cannot decide whether they like or detest him.” —The Times Literary Supplement
“Fascinating . . . We do come to feel the reality, the complicated reality, of Francis Prescott.” —Saturday Review
“My favorite of Auchincloss’s novels. Both decadent and demanding, high-hat and frank . . . A subversive in lace-up oxfords and rep tie.” —Amy Bloom
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 reckless 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 and exuberantly entertaining, The Scarlet Letters is an absorbing tale about the temptations of power, wealth, and passion.
The New York Times–bestselling author “picks up where Wharton and James left off, with [a] stylish, tasteful novel of manners” (Publishers Weekly).
Natica Chauncey, the daughter of a financier ruined by the Great Depression, is determined to regain the social status she has lost. She relies on a kindly matron for her glancing acquaintance with the aristocracy of Long Island—but she is haunted by a yearning for more.
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 has a gift for finding opportunity in improbable situations, even at the risk of scandal—and almost in spite of herself, she will emerge as an unlikely, and unforgettable, femme fatale.
From a renowned chronicler of American high society, this is a novel set in the small but distinguished New York law firm of Shepard, Putney & Cox in the early 1970s.
The son of a rich mother and a socially ambitious father, Beekman “Beeky” Ehninger makes a successful career for himself in the narrow upper echelons of his profession. For years, he has quietly guided his firm through numerous periods of transition—not to mention marital strife, forgery, and fraud. But as times have changed, Beeky and his colleagues must decide whether to join forces with a new and different breed—tough, but undeniably successful.
The Partners is a masterful characterization of moral men navigating an amoral world, of lawyers, their families, and the rich and powerful people they serve.
“Vintage Auchincloss—sensitive, ironic, sympathetic, affecting. Auchincloss is particularly good with the interior reality of seemingly minor conflicts; he also shows, over and over again, that seemingly large and dramatic conflicts are often not the important ones.” —New York magazine
Sublime master of manners, exquisite critic of the upper crust, and beloved American author Louis Auchincloss is at his wry, brilliant best with this collection of ten short stories about New York aristocracy.
Drawing on a century of Manhattan high society, Auchincloss weaves a set of perfectly crafted, intimate portrayals of the struggles and dramas of the elite. From a woman faced with choosing love or prestige when marrying to a man torn between loyalty to his family and country when called to war to a matchmaker handling a rogue romance, these glamorous yet all-too-human tales present a remarkable tableau of the American upper class.
A series of “finely etched portraits of the kind of men we’ve become used to meeting in [Auchincloss’s] fiction,” Manhattan Monologues stands as a remarkable achievement of short fiction, a legend of American letters at his insightful best (The New York Times Book Review).
“For the sheer elegance of his prose, Louis Auchincloss deserves a large and enthusiastic following.” —The Baltimore Sun
Nearing the end of his days, Adrian Suydam, half the partnership of the law firm of Suydam & Saunders, reflects on his lifelong friendship and business relationship with Ernest Saunders—a tragic and complicated man incapable of properly loving anyone. In this perceptive novel, set against the backdrop of old New York, Louis Auchincloss exposes the temptations and vicissitudes that thrust his characters toward unforeseen fates.
Drawing on his own career as an attorney, Auchincloss “effortlessly conjures a bygone world of privilege” and elegantly brings to life a lost era (Publishers Weekly). Through interwoven tales of family members, clients, and such notables as Teddy Roosevelt and the Astors, readers get an insider’s look at a secretive world. Touching, comical, and erudite, Last of the Old Guard is a revealing portrait of both a high-profile law firm and a poignant friendship between two men—from an author whose works “have rightfully earned him a literary place alongside Edith Wharton and Henry James. His old-fashioned sensibility remains charming, even refreshing in an era of literati hipsters” (Los Angeles Times).
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."
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 her on. 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 Broadlawns, Irving's Westchester estate, and caretaker of his fabulous art collection are roles Elesina takes in stride. For all 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 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.