Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Louis Auchincloss and Wharton

Last of the Old Guard

Louis Auchincloss’s 65th novel finds relevance in Wall Street attorneys of a bygone era.
By Heller McAlpin | December 15, 2008 edition

Last of the Old Guard By Louis Auchincloss Houghton Mifflin 212 pp., $25

Some people make the rest of us look like idlers. Case in point: Louis Auchincloss, who has written, on average, a book a year for six decades – even while practicing trust and estate law full-time for more than 40 of those years.

At 91, he’s produced his 65th book overall and 47th volume of fiction, Last of the Old Guard. The title refers to Ernest Saunders, a chilly New York attorney whose greatest passion is the law firm he founded with a Harvard classmate in 1883.

But Auchincloss, who was honored as a Living Landmark by the New York Landmarks Conservancy back in 2000, may well feel like the last of the old guard himself.

There’s something oddly comforting about reading this patrician novelist of manners, successor to Edith Wharton. You know, to a certain degree, what you’ll be served – rather like eating at an exclusive social club.

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