SPLENDID IN ASHES by Josephine Pinckney
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I like this better than anything Josephine Pinckney has written, with the possible exception of Three O'Clock Dinner. It shares with that the searching insight into Charleston mores, the skillful presentation of many facets of loyalties, acceptances of deviations when the sinner is their own, curiosity, and a stiff-necked snobbishness that puts blood and tradition ahead of money. But it was money that act Augustus Grimshawe apart, that made him a legend:- money that he lost as often as money that he won, for Augustus was a gambler, with people as well as dollars. His passion cost him the woman who loved him to the end; it cost him the mistress who was able to put him aside for a happy marriage- but who never forgot him; it cost him his children, his friends. But when he came back again, to the great house on the Battery, with his strange manage, curiosity brought Charleston to him feet again. The story is told in flashbacks, after his death- and before the questions of what will happen to his reputed wealth, his house, his widow, his mistress and the rest. This is the best story-telling Josephine Pinckney has given us; it is with regret that we realize this is her last book, for here is the fruit of her experience, her wit, her irony, her gift for mirroring the city that was her background, her skill in portraying its people, her sophistication in interpreting its contradictions. A refreshing and rewarding book.

Pub Date: April 14th, 1958
Publisher: Viking