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The Rector of Justin

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  349 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Regarded as one of Louis Auchincloss's most accomplished novels, THE RECTOR OF JUSTIN centers on Frank Prescott, the founder of an exclusive school for boys. Eighty years of his life unfold through the observations of six narrators, each with a unique perspective on the man, his motivations, and the roots of his triumphs and failings.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published July 10th 2002 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 1964)
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Bill  Kerwin

The author of The Rector of Justin, Louis Auchincloss, is the last novelist of “Old Money” in America, and may be considered as the inheritor of the tradition of Henry James and Edith Wharton. He possesses neither the genius of James nor the subtlety of Wharton, but he writes with clarity, builds an exemplary novel, and—being a product of Old Money himself (of the New York variety)—explores a world he knows well with an affection tempered by understanding.

The Rector of Justin presents us with th
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Tony
THE RECTOR OF JUSTIN. (1964). Louis Auchincloss. *****.
I have avoided this author’s works for the past sixty years because I thought his plots only involved the very rich families of New York. Not a good reason to avoid him, but it made me feel that I would encounter another Edith Wharton, with whose books I usually fell asleep with. I hope this doesn’t bring a spate of letters from fans of Edith Wharton. It turns out that I was right, in a way. The author does write about the privileged classes
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Elizabeth (Alaska)
Another of my summer new-to-me authors and quite good. I came to this one because of a review in Second Reading: Notable and Neglected Books Revisited. It is a character study of Dr. Frank Prescott, Episcopalian minister, headmaster and founder of what is supposed to be one of the foremost New England boarding schools for boys. He is a larger than life man who was both revered and hated. We are given six points of view.

This Auchincloss book is sprinkled with literary references from O'Hara (who
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Unbridled
The Rector of Justin is as exquisite, refined, and quietly intelligent as the society it describes. Genius? No, there is no radiance here, but what would we read if we read for geniuses only? Even the majority of geniuses are only capable of one book of genius - with minor constellations circling and illuminating the singular consequence. More fundamentally, geniuses are rarely born of the society Auchincloss describes. Still, is the book brilliant? Brilliantly fulfilled? Yes. I was not committe ...more
Shane
Auchincloss proves that the intellectual novel can contain sympathetic characters who make speeches and discuss idealogy. Perhaps he wrote at a time when longer attention spans of readers gave his characters the luxury to invest in elaborate discourses on the state of the nation and the states of their hearts and minds.

I recall an initial draft of a novel I wrote in a similar vein which came back from a publisher saying that the characters were wooden and that there was insufficient action and n
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Cheryl
This is a heartfelt "biographical" story of a headmaster who has a bigger than life persona & the clerical teacher who was his friend & confidant. There were times it reminded me of `Owen Meany` & times it reminded me of `The Great Santini` in flavor & spirit. I really sailed through it because it was absolutely fascinating.
Syntactical Disruptorize
This is one of Auchincloss's two best works. He was probably the last great novelist of manners, and certainly the best depicter of the upper class of New York. His depiction of Frank Prescott, headmaster of the eponymous boys' prep school, is nuanced and vivid. His triumphs and failures, seen through the eyes of the admiring yet troubled narrator, are all the more epic in scope for being painted on such a small canvas. In the end, headmaster and narrator alike realize that Prescott's influence ...more
Tim McIntosh
A compelling novel about a mysterious personality. Francis Prescott is the headmaster of a boarding school for boys. The book is told through a series of testimonies written by Prescott's students, family, and coworkers. Some love him, some hate him, all are affected by him.

Auchincloss's style is lucid and bright. And the book reads as a treatise about the power and travails of huge personalities like Prescott's. Can high ideals ever be realizable through a high-minded school like Justin Martyr?
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Mark McKenna
ATTN: Spoilers Abound

"The Rector of Justin" is a laudable book by a classic 20th century writer, Louis Auchincloss, writing in the full bloom of his powers.

That's not to say you're going to like it.

During his lifetime Auchincloss wrote over forty books, half of which became bestsellers. In "The Rector of Justin" he gives us the biography of a fictional "great man," Dr. Francis Prescott, the founder of an equally fictional New England prep school for boys, "Justin Martyr."

The tone of the book is
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Edward
Auchincloss has written a portrait of a private school headmaster, Frank Prescott, as told through the eyes of a new teacher at Justin Martyr, supposedly one of the best private boys' schools in New England. He says he is thinking of writing a biography of whom he considers a "great man", but never gets around to it. Nevertheless, a full picture of Prescott emerges, as revealed in personal impressions, several fragments of biographical sketches, and personal interviews with present colleagues a ...more
M.G. Bianco
Leigh Bortins and others had recommended this book to me. David Hicks also mentions it in his book, Norms and Nobility. I finally got around to reading this Thanksgiving weekend.

I must say I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It is a peaceful read, not a lot of excitement or intensity. It is not the 'plot' that drives the story, rather the curiosity of the character from whose perspective the book is written. The story is primarily communicated through Aspinwall's journal entries. However, once he d
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Peter Kettle
I finished it a few days after starting, and apart from thinking it is one of the best novels Auchincloss wrote - everyone thinks that - it does act as a corrective to the flashy writing that gets the praise. Sure, this is a novel out of its time. But it is elegant, beautifully crafted, and subtly demanding. The dusty feel to such prose is out of fashion but if that doesn't bother you, please read it. Auchincloss sits with Edith Wharton, and occupies that position comfortably. The two would have ...more
Joseph Mcelroy
I read this book based upon the the reading list by Joseph L. Badaracco Jr.'s for his course The Moral Leader in the HBS MBA program. As an accidental businessman and part-time intellectual, I find myself looking to literature for insights into the life I am leading. I found this book to provide some comfort to that common business condition - no matter your best efforts, sometimes the people you work with are hurt by your decisions and your relationships forever suffer. And yet, at the same tim ...more
Austen to Zafón
I was reading Auchincloss's obit in the NYT recently and I realized that I hadn't read any of his books. Many critics consider this his most ambitious novel. I must say I enjoyed it. It was dense and intellectual and it sent me to the dictionary many times for such words as athwart, encomium and epicene. It also challenged my knowledge of philosophy and literature, assuming I knew more about Plato and Samuel Richardson than I really do! I like a book that pushes me in this way. It started out a ...more
Daniel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Núria
‘El rector de Justin’ de Louis Auchincloss es una novela con una clara influencia de Henry James, ya que tiene bastante del aire intelectual, serio y reflexivo de James. Es casi una novela de ideas y habla de temas como religión, fe, valor, honor, vanidad, sinceridad, etc. Pero es también una novela que retrata un mundo que ya ha desaparecido, el de los colegios privados religiosos de Nueva Inglaterra, pero por extensión también retrata el mundo de las clases dirigentes americanas de finales del ...more
Linda
This is the story of Rev. Francis Prescott, the rector of Justin Martyr, a fictitious well-known prep school for boys in Massachusetts. The novel begins in September 1939 when Brian Aspinwall begins his career at the school as an instructor of English. Prescott is held in awe by the faculty and alumni of the school, and Brian decides to compile the story of Prescott’s life and tenure at the school. The story is told by five other narrators who have near connections to Prescott: David Griscam, c ...more
Abigail
This book feels familiar because of its setting at an all-boys boarding school and its tone as a "journal" of a character. Less moody than A Separate Peace, it nevertheless has a bit of a dark side. I enjoyed it pretty well until midway and by the end was glad to see it finish. Not bad if its all you've got around, but I will not be keeping my copy.
Jeanne
Why it took me so long to discover Louis Auchincloss and read The Rector of Justin, I don't know. It is considered a classic and I certainly can understand why. When one thinks about "the most unforgettable character I have met," the Rector, Frank Prescott, goes to the top of the list. This cleverly structured book about a very complex individual is told from six different points of view. There is much to ponder about the motivations of Prescott, the historical period and mores of this era all p ...more
Shincrackerfarm
A friend urged me to read this book, loaned it to me. I am so grateful. It's the story of a lifetime relationship between a man and the boarding school he founded. As I read it I recognized situations, mini-plots and characters from my own boarding school experiences, and how those events, etc. were unique to the prep school setting. By the time I finished the book in my mind my days at Proctor Academy had been relived at "Justin".
If you've had similar life experiences, or are interested in the
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Elizabeth
I reread this book after a very long time as many members of my family attended Groton School as did the author. The book is based on his experiences although he asserts in a long afterword that the headmaster in his fiction is a far more complex and nuanced character than the famous Endicott Peabody. His evocation of a Protestant boarding school in the 1940's seems real enough, but I became bored and frustrated with his main character, Brian Aspinwall, who seems to be nothing but a cipher for t ...more
William Breen
A novel of the life of the founding headmaster of an upscale religious boys school is well outside of my normal reading. I expected it to be a bit slow and boring but found it neither. I highly recommend this wonderfully intelligent novel.
Jeanne
Dr. Francis Prescott founded Justin Martyr, an exclusive prep school in New England. He is the rector of Justin. His life and career are chronicled by several individuals, and each account reveals a different side of the greatly admired man.

The storytellers are as follows:

• His oldest friend;
• An admiring young teacher;
• Three students of differing generations; and
• One of his daughters.

Together they paint a rich portrait of the distinguished rector of Justin.

The first half of this novel flies
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Janet Harrison
Excellent account of personalities and ego in an all boy private school.
Bradley
4 if Jane Austen is your favorite author.
Jon
A portrait, warts and all, of the founder and long-time first headmaster of a New England boarding school. The school may be Groton, the headmaster may be Endicott Peabody, but this is less a roman a clef than an exercise in perspective: showing truth by coming at it down many avenues. And with effortless, clear, unobtrusive writing. A needed sorbet between courses of Lawrence Durrell's similarly structured, almost unbearably operatic, Alexandria Quartet .
David
Picked this one up after reading an appreciation of the author in The New Yorker. The writer of that piece named this one his favorite, or at least most representative of Auchincloss' most successful treatment of his most common themes. I'd really give 3.5 stars if such a thing were possible, but yes, I'd recommend it. It's just that I'm so far removed from this world (the entrenched wealthy of the Eastern US) and its concerns. Lovely writing, though.
Gail
Mar 06, 2008 Gail rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Wharton fans
A wonderful little book for fans of Wharton or those who enjoy stories about the upper crust of America. This is the story of the rector's life from childhood through death, as told by 5 different narrators. Some of the voices are indistinct from one another, which would be the only fault I could find with this book. A great picture of a man of strength and vision, it also portrays his weaknesses. Well worth reading.
Diane
I liked this more than I thought I would. I thought it was going to be a typical book about a New England boy's private school blah blah blah. But the portrait drawn of the headmaster through the eyes of all the various characters creates such a wonderful character study of this Rector of Justin. It turned out to be as elegant a portrait of mores and manners as any Jane Austen.
Libby
This is the first book I have read by this author. I highly recommend it--there are many well-developed, interesting characters, and a lot going on in the book. It is set in a fictitious Massachusetts prep school in the late '30s/early '40s.
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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
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More about Louis Auchincloss...
East Side Story: A Novel The Headmaster's Dilemma A Voice from Old New York: A Memoir of My Youth Woodrow Wilson Manhattan Monologues: Stories

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