Cover image for The lady of situations
The lady of situations
Auchincloss, Louis.
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Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1990.
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Central Library FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Central Library FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Author Notes

Louis Auchincloss was born on September 27, 1917 in New York. He attended Groton College and Yale University and received a law degree from the University of Virginia. He served in the U.S. Navy for four years during World War ll. A practicing attorney, Auchincloss wrote his first novel, "The Indifferent Children," in 1947 under the pseudonym Andrew Lee, establishing a dual career as a successful lawyer and writer.

Born into a socially prominent family, Auchincloss generally writes about society's upper class. Strong family connections, well-bred manners, and corporate boardrooms are subject matter in such novels as "Portrait in Brownstone" and "I Come As a Thief." He has also written several biographical and critical works on such notable writers as Edith Wharton and Henry James.

Auchincloss was President of the Museum of the City of New York.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Auchincloss' modern morality tale features Natica Chauncey, a young woman from an old New York family whose fortune was lost during the Depression. Natica is determined to improve her status, but when she marries minister Tommy Barnes and they settle in at the Averhill school for boys, it seems that social climbing is out. The appearance of an Averhill alumnus with looks, money, and charm presents Natica with new opportunities. She is soon divorced and remarried despite the social disapprobation of the 1930s. The story, told from Natica's view, is perfectly reasonable--she is a bright, talented young woman, who eventually becomes a lawyer (Auchincloss' highest kudo) plagued by bad luck. On the other hand, Natica's Aunt Ruth, who shares the novel's narration, sees her as a scheming, unladylike figure. This sense of the duality of Natica's nature adds even more interest to the well-told tale. ~--Denise Perry Donavin

Publisher's Weekly Review

In his 43rd book, Auchincloss again picks up where Wharton and James left off, with another stylish, tasteful novel of manners focusing on the moneyed Establishment. The daughter of a financier ruined in the Depression, Natica Chauncey is hungry for the social status her family has lost. She turns entrapping ``situations'' to her advantage, three times marrying men she uses for self-advancement and refusing the idle female existence prescribed by society. Auchincloss's hallmark skills are evident here: meticulous prose, colorful depictions of idiosyncratic personalities, intelligent treatment of women's changing roles and descriptions of subtle intricacies of social climbing. But his characters' very lack of depth robs them of the reader's sympathy. Natica's manipulations may be ``the needed armor of a brilliant woman in a man's world'' but, combined with her emotional thinness, they render her rather unappealing. The most profoundly drawn character, headmaster Rufus Lockwood, owes much of his vivid personality to literary predecessor Frank Prescott of The Rector of Justin. Still, Auchincloss's portrayal of the bonds and battles between the sexes and the ethics of loyalty and responsibility result in an acute study in human motivation. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Auchincloss's latest novel is the Brahmins' answer to Judith Krantz. It chronicles the professional adventures of Natica Chauncey, airy and ambitious daughter of decayed gentry, as she manipulates her way up the social ladder and, eventually, the pay scale. From marriage to an Episcopal minister at a boys' boarding school, through variously rewarding affairs, to financial security as a lawyer, she is consistently dull and pretentious. Her maiden Aunt Ruth's fond observations dot the narrative, as do various character's comments on literature and art. This novel reiterates Auchincloss's oft-made point (he's written some 40 books) that the old guard doesn't have any particular claim to gentility, but the book itself isn't of any inherent interest. Not recommended. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/1/90.-- Molly McCluer, Alameda Cty. Law Lib., Oakland, Cal. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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