A VOICE FROM OLD NEW YORK
BY LOUIS AUCHINCLOSS
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT, $25
Readers lost a thoughtful, wise author when Louis Auchincloss died in January this year at the age of 92.
Auchincloss left a final, posthumous gift, however, a memoir of his youth titled “A Voice From Old New York.”
The novelist and biographer had written an earlier autobiography in 1974, “A Writer's Capital.” He could have written his last book about the decades that followed, but he chose to revisit his childhood.
Auchincloss is known for writing about the manners and society of New York City's wealthy. He took over where Edith Wharton left off. He had a knack for it because he was born into that world.
Growing up in New York City's Upper East Side, he had maids, nurses, additional homes on Long Island and Bar Harbor, Maine, and prestigious private schools, including Groton and Yale University.
In his numerous novels and biographies, he was able to distance himself from that milieu to write critically about the people that surrounded him, their failings as well as their humanities.
In “A Voice,” he focuses on his family, his parents and siblings, and on his friends. He drops quite a few famous names along the way. He was a cousin, for example, to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.