Michiko Kakutani

MichikoKakutaniAs usual, Auchincloss delineates the manners and mores of this selfmade, American aristocracy with glossy, efficient prose, garnished with a pinch of irony and a dab of melodrama. No doubt all the allusions in this novel to Henry James and Edith Wharton are there to remind the reader that Auchincloss means to follow in their illustrious tradition. But while he is adept enough at portraying the effects of a rarefied milieu on character, his narrative lacks a necessary density and texture.
Like the shiny parquet floors of their apartment houses, Mr. Auchincloss’s people are just a little too finely polished, a little too tidily assembled, to really intrigue the reader. Further, there is a tendency, on the author’s part, to compress their dilemmas and intrigues into a single line or paragraph, and as a consequence, the characters hover on the verge of becoming actual personages— interesting in the way that our friends and colleagues are — only to collapse back into the realm of cliche.

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