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EAST SIDE STORY

Louis Auchincloss, Author . Houghton Mifflin $24 (227p) ISBN 978-0-618-45244-6

A starred review indicates a book of outstanding quality. A review with a blue-tinted title indicates a book of unusual commercial interest that hasn't received a starred review.

EAST SIDE STORY Louis Auchincloss . Houghton Mifflin , $24 (240p) ISBN 0-618-45244-3

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. Agent, Mitchell Waters at Curtis Brown. BOMC alternate. (Dec. 2)

Forecast: Reviews and retrospectives are likely to make much of Auchincloss's landmark 60th novel, which should fuel sales of this and backlist titles.

Reviewed on: 10/04/2004
Release date: 12/01/2004
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