THE GOLDEN SUMMERS by Richard O'Connor


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If these baroque excesses of snobbism don't repel you, then this is an entertaining book. O'Connor's acerbic Irish pen sketches the intricate minuets and quadrilles of Newport society since the days when The Lady Astor presided on a ""thronelike divan"" while ""her footmen wore blue livery copied exactly from that of Windsor Castle."" O'Connor catalogues everyone's ancestors, third cousins and disreputable uncles taking malicious delight in pointing to dynastic origins over a butcher's shop or a scruffy miner's pail. The dinner parties, estate litigations, marriages and indiscretions which helped relieve the exquisite boredom and vacuity of their lives are chronicled by the author with a kind of contemptuous amusement. The etiquette demanded of all who aspired to Newport society was as rigid as anything that prevailed at the Viennese court of the Hapsburgs and, in an American setting, just to describe it is to invite parody. O'Connor also pursues ""the vulgarization of Newport"" as that once sedate New England town was taken over by the new plutocrats who commenced to build palatial ""cottages,"" French chateaus and Italian Renaissance mansions. Though centered in Newport, O'Connor's story necessarily betakes itself to New York's Fifth Avenue, European resorts and exclusive watering holes everywhere. The action is centered overwhelmingly around the diamond studded dowagers who created this social swirl and husbands generally seem ""shadowy and inconsequential."" For those who care -- this is a sardonic and often witty account of how The Rich and the Super-Rich spent their halcyon summers.

Pub Date: July 24th, 1974
Publisher: Putnam