Friday, May 25, 2007

The Rector of Justin

This novel by Louis Auchincloss is considered by many to be a modern classic. Whether you share that opinion or not, I believe it certainly represents his best work in the genre. Using six different narrators, Auchincloss tells the life story of Francis Prescott, from his youth as a schoolboy to his death at age 85. As Dr. Francis Prescott, he is the rector (headmaster) and founder of an exclusive New England Episcopalian boys' school Justin Martyr (a famous prep school). The narrators' attitudes toward their subject range from veneration to hatred, thus providing the depth of character that infuses the book and elucidates effectively the somewhat larger-than-life central character. The book is both well written and compulsively readable. While not a particularly profound or deep book, it is an excellent, enjoyable read, and a fine introduction to this modern author. If you enjoy this novel I would recommend Auchincloss' short stories.

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