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The Lady of Situations
     

The Lady of Situations

by Louis Auchincloss
 

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This novel centers on a woman, Natica Chauncey, whose family has los its money and social pretensions in the Depression. Headstrong and ambitious, Natica is determined to claw her way back into the social world from which her parents have complacently fallen. As this is the 1930s, the only route available to her is marriage, first to the Assistant Chaplain of a

Overview

This novel centers on a woman, Natica Chauncey, whose family has los its money and social pretensions in the Depression. Headstrong and ambitious, Natica is determined to claw her way back into the social world from which her parents have complacently fallen. As this is the 1930s, the only route available to her is marriage, first to the Assistant Chaplain of a celebrated prep school, then, after a brief affair and pregnancy, to a dreamy young man who comes from a wealthy Hudson River valley clan.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780395544112
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
07/02/1990
Pages:
288

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