The Friend of Women and Other Stories
By Louis Auchincloss
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780618718665, 224pp.)
Publication Date: March 2007
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The Los Angeles Times has lauded Louis Auchincloss as "a novelist committed to examining the complicated layers of character, psychology, and society." In The Friend of Women, that dedication shines on every page in the singular, epigrammatic style of an American master.
The mysteries of character are at the heart of these six previously unpublished pieces. In the title story, a teacher at a private girls' school ruminates on a long career, wondering if he was right to encourage his students to find a life less constrained than the conventional one prescribed to them or if he cruelly raised unrealistic expectations. In "The Country Cousin" -- a delightful one-act play -- a wealthy woman's dependent niece unwittingly serves as the vehicle that reveals her rich relatives' self-involvement. Ranging from a boyhood friendship tested by the fabrications of the McCarthy era to an Episcopal priest tormented by an autocratic headmaster, Auchincloss's fiction illuminates the complications that ensue when our perceptions of other people's character -- as well as our own -- are upended.
Louis Auchincloss was honored in the year 2000 as a “Living Landmark” by the New York Landmarks Conservancy. During his long career he wrote more than sixty books, including the story collection Manhattan Monologues and the novel The Rector of Justin. The former president of the Academy of Arts and Letters, he resided in New York City until his death in January 2010.