BOOK REVIEW / In brief: False Gods - Louis Auchincloss: Constable, pounds 14.99

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The Independent Culture
In this series of short stories which rework classical myths, Auchincloss suggests that we carry the seeds of our own self-destruction: all we need is a bit of fertile ground, and hey presto, nemesis comes creaking round the corner. Given his partiality to Edith Wharton and Henry James, it is no surprise that Auchincloss writes with elegance and precision of 19th-century life in the drawing rooms of New York; the moral choices are frequently underpinned by a quietly malicious humour; the mythology is never obtrusive. His prose is as spacious and controlled as the world he describes, but too vigorous to decline into mannered vacuity.

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