In this novel by the author of Three Lives, a blue blood New York lawyer recounts his life through stories of people he has encountered along the way.
Linking three generations of a Wall Street law firm, The Education of Oscar Fairfax provides a revealing portrait of the American upper classes throughout the twentieth century. The story opens in 1908, as St. Luke’s Cathedral rises stone by stone on lower Broadway, and young Oscar learns a lesson in compromise from his grandfather, the bishop. Oscar’s schooling continues at St. Augustine’s, where he sees a schoolmaster’s high ideals exposed as fantasy, and at Yale, where Oscar’s literary ambitions are tempered by a brilliant but ruthless classmate who proves that “the juiciest tidbit for many a writer is the hand that fed him.” As an adult, Oscar is one who profoundly affects others, whether he is subtly influencing a Supreme Court justice during the New Deal era, acting as mentor to a talented local boy in a Maine resort town, or probing the ethical dilemma that tempts his own son to resign from the family firm.
“As Auchincloss charts his hero’s education, he considers human nature in all its arenas, from religion to law, love, war, and art.” —Booklist
“Much satisfaction is generated as Auchincloss, in his 38th book of fiction, reliably affirms his craft, depicting the maturation of character through time.” —Publishers Weekly
“Auchincloss . . . tells the saga of the American Century as only he knows how, through a fictional memoir by someone well poised to witness the high social dimension of political events . . . . [A] perfect character study, all the more profound for its modesty and measure.” —Kirkus Reviews