Overview

 

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 ...
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The Lady of Situations

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Overview

 

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.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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
Library Journal
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547790480
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 7/2/1990
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 274
  • Sales rank: 848,775
  • File size: 267 KB

Meet the Author

Louis Auchincloss was honored in the year 2000 as a “Living Landmark” by the New York Landmarks Conservancy. During his long career he wrote more than sixty books, including the story collection Manhattan Monologues and the novel The Rector of Justin. The former president of the Academy of Arts and Letters, he resided in New York City until his death in January 2010.

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