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The Scarlet Letters

3.13  ·  Rating Details ·  79 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published November 5th 2003 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2003)
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Aug 22, 2010 Susan rated it it was ok
This wasn't bad, just okay. The setting is New York City and a town on Long Island, but there was no local color, and the characters were flat. The story was interesting, but on the whole it was a bit dull.
Feb 26, 2016 Nan rated it really liked it
I love Auchincloss's hermetic environments, and this made me feel like I was watching the movie Carol again. He handles shifting p.o.v. with suppleness, and there's a comeuppance factor that's wonderfully satisfying. He follows a couple over the course of an affair that one of them has, beginning with one set of parents, through courtship, through infidelity, and then the aftermath. Part of what makes Auchincloss so good and entertaining is that he creates characters that on the surface and from ...more
Nov 29, 2009 Ozimandias rated it liked it
Mr. Auchincloss published his first book in 1947. This book is his 59th published work. Apparently, this author enjoys writing in a rather stodgy style about uppercrust New Yorkers whose families are headed by business people or business lawyers. This is no different. Taking place in the 1950's and before, the book traces the lineages, marriages and fortunes of anyone attached to the law firm Vollard Kaye. Ambrose Vollard marries into rich, Boston stock and enters a law firm that will quickly be ...more
Jan 09, 2010 Nancy rated it liked it
I would love to be acquinted with Louis Auchincloss. He is a very keen observer of people and his particular gift is the creation of fascinating extended families with a strong, silent matriarch and morally flawed men. He must have come from a line of fascinating women to have developed the insight and respect he has for early 20th century women's "work" behind the scenes in a family.

The Scarlet Letters is a bit of a departure from the other Auchincloss books I've read in that the character deve
Feb 28, 2014 Ed rated it really liked it
Auchincloss is prolific - especially on the subject here: New Your upper-class society. He is perceptive, and this book was (surprisingly, given the topic?) compelling reading. The Hawthorne allusions and specific references to New England Puritans serve to point out the allegorical aspects of this book.
I thought this was going to be a lot worse than it was. It held my interest, and it was a nice easy read. Great beach book.
Aug 11, 2015 Rhiannon rated it it was ok
Shelves: meh-bad
wasn't really like the scarlet letter??
Dec 29, 2013 Nancy rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Louis Auchincloss writes of the wealthy of New York. That's no great surprise, and this book chronicles the lives of some of the attorneys in the old established firm of Ambrose Vollard.
Here is how the wealthy handle scandal and how they gain and keep their money. It is basically about Rodman Jessup, a man of ideals, and Harry Hammersly, a man whose goals are money and social status. The book also touches on what the characters gain and lose in the pursuit of money and power.
The Twins
Feb 28, 2012 The Twins rated it liked it
The rise and fall of Rodman Jessup in the New York Society. A splendid insight into various characters and life and morals during the 1950's. Every main character has his past described up to the present time and the paths they chose. The characters and the reasons for their actions are faszinating especially Harry Hammersly's - but sometimes the storyline is too drawn out and goes off to far into comparisons with characters from plays or mythology.
Jan 21, 2010 Beth rated it it was ok
A deeply forgettable book. I know Auchincloss has a superb reputation, but I found his characters wooden, especially his women. This short book had something to do with lawyers and power and good and evil, but everyone seemed driven by the hand of the master rather than by genuine emotions --- though who am I to say what goes on in the upper crust of Manhattan.
Apr 10, 2010 Patti rated it really liked it
This is an amazing picture of a time and a generation that have pretty much passed way. It draws GIs in the 1950's, a laced-up time, and their lost generation parents, distant and unreachable in so many aspects.
I loved the clearly drawn characters, the atmosphere of change andf compromise, and the erosion of moral certainty that really filled those years.
May 27, 2008 Ginny rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: great travel read
A quick read, interesting characters, lifestyle of wealthy but not necessarily happy people. Colorful. This is his 59th work. References to Hawthorne, but no actual letters. The blurb says it is "a triumphant modern twist on the legendary Hawthorne tale." I guess that is true if no punishment makes it a modern story.
May 16, 2013 Debeenz rated it liked it
This is the first book I have read by this author. There is no murder or mayhem, or sexual perversion, in The Scarlet Letters. It is a book about life, love and honor featuring rise and fall of Rodman Jessup, who works in his father-in=law's law firm, in New York Society.
Peggy Donnelly
Apr 06, 2015 Peggy Donnelly rated it liked it
I suspect that any reader will recognize that despite the setting in the 1950's, the sexual attitudes are modern day. The character depictions were so thorough that you identified with them. Light, entertaining, surprising story.
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Louis Stanton Auchincloss was an American novelist, historian, and essayist.

Among Auchincloss's best-known books are the multi-generational sagas The House of Five Talents, Portrait in Brownstone, and East Side Story. Other well-known novels include The Rector of Justin, the tale of a renowned headmaster of a school like Groton trying to deal with changing times, and The Embezzler, a look at white
More about Louis Auchincloss...

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