Their Pride and Joy

Paul Buttenwieser, Author Delacorte Press $18.95 (442p) ISBN 978-0-385-29567-3
Writing with an insider's knowledge of the rarefied world he describes, psychiatrist and novelist Buttenwieser (Free Association delineates the family, social and business habits of the contemporary Our Crowd, the descendents of the wealthy German-Jewish families who left their mark on New York as leaders of industry and patrons of the arts. The high-minded Gutheims practice noblesse oblige in a relentless way. Lawyer Alan Gutheim spends enormous amounts of time on civic committees; his wife Peggy is an obsessive volunteer; they are raising their three children with the same sense of selfless devotion. Their daughter Joan, sent home from Bennington because of a mysterious illness, is indeed wasting away with anorexia, but ostentatiously self-effacing Peggy, who is so busy ""contributing'' and professing that she lets her children run their own lives (though in reality she uses ``camouflaged coercion'') ignores the obvious signs of Joan's sickness as she does any frailty or blemish on her uncompromising conception of duty. This hermetically sealed social circle is briefly rocked by a real estate scandal in which Peggy's Wall Street broker brother is involved. But the narrative's considerable impact lies in Buttenwieser's delineation of Joan's breakdown under the blindfolded eyes of her loving family, who focus on helping everyone but the neediest among them. Buttenwieser's ironic, sometimes acidulous tone is exactly right in this enormously absorbing novel. Major ad/promo; author tour. (September 11)
Reviewed on: 08/04/1987
Release date: 08/01/1987
Paperback - 978-0-440-50073-5
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