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Hardcover The Scarlet Letters Book

ISBN: 0618341595

ISBN13: 9780618341597

The Scarlet Letters

With such classic works as The Rector of Justin and, more recently, Manhattan Monologues, Louis Auchincloss has long established himself as one of our "most useful and intelligent writers" (New York Observer). Now this American master offers his cleverest novel yet: a triumphant modern twist on the legendary Hawthorne tale, in which secrets, sin, and suspense collide among the fabulously rich. The year is 1953, and the coastal village of Glenville,...

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Condition: Very Good

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Customer Reviews

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The Scarlet Letters

Hi, I have found a new Love, a new author. This book is apparently one of many by Louis Auchincloss who is a master at drawing characters and drawing out his story in clear pleasing lines.Some consider his story to be passe but their worth has come to be pertinent to our new hard times. I have enjoyed his glimpse into New York society from before the great crash to the fifties. enjoy

But Auchincloss has his own voice and manner as author

We don't expect great writers to reproduce exactly ordinary speech. Nobody talks like the characters in Moby Dick, or Hamlet. Auchincloss is not Melville or Shakespeare, but he is writing on a different plane than the run-of-the-mill bestseller. Granted the dialogue in Auchincloss' novels is not ordinary speech, but this is clearly intended for literary effect by the author--it is not that he has a tin ear. I like Auchincloss' books. I liked The Scarlet Letters. I enjoy a peek into the world he knows so well and most of the rest of us only imagine. And I enjoy novels where the quotidian is made interesting. There is no murder or mayhem, or sexual perversion, in The Scarlet Letters. But it is about life and love, and honor. A book by Auchincloss is like a quiet walk in the woods on a weekday afternoon. You get to think about things in repose, not necessarily important things, but just things.

Amazing writing, like poetry?.

While it does indeed share some of the same themes of The Scarlet Letter, I think this novel is incredible in it own right. Wonderfully detailed, with lots of back-story included, helped me really get a good sense of place and the characters. The plot itself focuses on elite families in New York during the 1950s and the extremely successful law firm they run. The scandal at the very beginning (one of the powerful lawyer's son in laws has committed adultery) is only the very beginning. The writer explores the web of relationships between the families and all the secrets and lies their lives are built on. While some people complain that the author's writing is a bit old-fashioned, I personally think it added to the story, but I admit, I did have to look up a few words! Overall, quite an enjoyable read, and I will be checking out more of the author's work.

"What can you gain by looking down? You might even drop."

Loosely paralleling Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, with its themes of love and betrayal, honor and adultery, this novel of manners is also a morality tale in which Auchincloss shines the spotlight on a prestigious New York law firm in 1953, along with its internal workings and the elite families which run it. With a smoothly elegant style, he traces the history of the law firm of Vollard, Kaye, and Duer, meticulously recreating the pedigrees and family connections of his characters--who is married to whom, which families have merged through which marriages, and whose fortunes are rising and whose are falling. As the marriages of the principals of Vollard Kaye are negotiated, consummated, and/or dissolved, the reader is brought into living rooms and board rooms to watch as the characters wrestle with their overlapping family responsibilities and business obligations, and to observe them dealing with important issues: What, exactly, is justice, and on what inalienable truths, if any, does it rest? Does the concept of right change as times change? Is idealism possible in a pragmatic, nuts-and-bolts world?Auchincloss's style is refined and formal, with sentences which never lose their way, even when the sentence structure itself is convoluted. Old-fashioned in his approach to his characters, Auchincloss conveys the impression that he does not want to invade their privacy by showing them in their weakest moments. His is a buttoned-up sort of characterization, one which is appropriate to a novel in which ideas are more important than the uniquenesses of character. As a result, the characters are somewhat wooden--illustrative of traits, rather then real, breathing humans--and their actions are sometimes hard to fathom. He has a tendency to announce, rather than show through the characters' actions, the ideas he wants to convey.Auchincloss is a confident and practiced story-teller, however, with a clear belief that fiction is capable of conveying ideas at the same time that it is entertaining. His themes are clearly illustrated, and his characters, with their foibles and worries, share many of the same concerns as the rest of us, despite their elevated social status. Though the ending is a bit melodramatic, the story is intelligent and fun to read-a fascinating reflection of life and mores of just fifty years ago. Mary Whipple
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