This is an engaging, personal examination of various novels concerning social relations by a successful novelist who admires Henry James and uses him as a standard of comparison. The works surveyed are chiefly those where the drama is engaged because of social differences between titled characters, snobs, social climbers, etc.- a world most prolixly recorded by Victorian novelists. Daudet, Edith Wharton, Thackeray, George Eliot, Saint Simon, Meredith, Proust, Trollope, Bourget, Marquand, O'Hara, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, make up the private library in which the author rambles, assuming perhaps too freely that the reader is as familiar with these works as he is, but otherwise presenting clearly and attractively the distilled opinions of a critic-novelist on works that echo, or have shaped, his particular interest. It is not, and not intended to be, a broad critical survey- but its wit, ease and ability to convey personal interpretations remind us that Mr. Auchincloss is cultured, intelligent, thoughtful, well-read.
June 1961 : USA Hardback