Rhonda Johnson
October 31, 1997 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Atonement and Other Stories

Current Status
In Season
Louis Auchincloss
Short Stories, Fiction

We gave it an A

In this PC world, Auchincloss’ crisp, confident tales of the WASP elite almost qualify as guilty pleasures. These 12 stories, published to coincide with the prolific author’s 80th birthday, will satisfy longtime fans and initiates alike with their portraits of investment bankers, lawyers, and socialites testing the limits of silver-plated social niches. In the title piece, an aristocratic Wall Streeter briefly considers abandoning his job, family, and social position when his best friend is arrested for insider trading. Other characters contemplate the subtle, inviolable rules that render a particular divorce scandalous or honorable, a marriage proposal unacceptable or socially redeeming. As usual, Auchincloss etches out the moral dilemmas of the blue-chip social stratum with reassuring clarity. A

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