Last of the Old Guard

Louis Auchincloss, Author . Houghton Mifflin $24 (212p) ISBN 978-0-547-15275-2

“Private papers left by the dead may present difficult problems for the survivor,” Auchincloss writes in his latest chronicle of the WASP wealthy, and they do for Adrian Suydam, “an American gentleman of the old school,” who sets about writing the biography of his deceased corporate law partner, Ernest Saunders. It's 1944, and grand old New York is in its full glory as Adrian digs into Ernest's past (and, by virtue of their close relationship, his own), touching on muffled scandals that could threaten “the old order of the wellborn and highly educated.” The tone is cool and reserved as Adrian examines how Ernest's passionate devotion to the firm—founded in 1883—precludes him from finding true love and how his colleague foresees the loss of “the homogeneity, the esprit de corps, the intimacy” that “the changing conditions of modern law practice” presage. The law partners' friendship constitutes a classic fraternal love story, and Auchincloss, for all his narrative stuffiness, effortlessly conjures a bygone world of privilege. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 09/22/2008
Release date: 12/01/2008
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-0-544-10760-1
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