Once again, Louis Auchincloss has raided the till of his social register to depict the travails of Manhattan's upper class. In 12 stories proceeding chronologically from the 1870s to the present, his protagonists try to accommodate themselves to the roles seemingly assigned them at birth. Few succeed. The robber baron of the first story is no more or less rapacious than the corporate raider of the last: 100 years of ""progress'' have merely taught the gently bred to meet defeat with increased grace and alacrity. Some of the book's women seem better able to forge their own destinies: one perseveres in her passion for avant-garde art despite the derision of family and friends; another, a widow whose children consign her to a life of baby-sitting and basket-weaving, instead forms a friendship with an effeminate but life-giving companion. Others seem only too willing to share their male partners' glum acceptance of the status quo, even when their golden chains limit both creativity and sexuality. Still, few give way to total despair. Their author has imbued them with a stubborn but lasting resilience that augers well for their continuing survivaland his, as their most inspired chronicler. (May 21)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987 Release date: 01/01/1987 Genre:
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