Being Bostonian – Glens Falls Post

I picked up about two weeks ago a book by an author I’d never read before — John P. Marquand. The book, “The Late George Apley” was first published in 1937 and is a wonderful portrait of a man, a family and a certain segment of a certain society. That segment is the upper class and that society is Bostonian. The book is constructed as a tribute and portrait of George Apley, following his death, by one of his close friends who has access to his letters and other papers, from which he quotes at length. It’s a novel, so all of this is made up by Marquand. It has also been described as a “satirical novel,” although usually with the caveat that this is “light satire,” meaning that this group’s manners and mores are poked but never skewered. Moments of the book are laugh-out-loud funny, but its brilliance comes from the perfect modulation of tone — the way George Apley is a figure of fun for his sometimes-petty preoccupations, and at the same time, a sympathetic and even tragic figure for his honesty and consistency and the way he both enforces and is confined by a restrictive and frequently absurd code of behavior. This is the only book by Marquand that Crandall Public Library has, but the Southern Adirondack Library System has others that can be requested, and today I will pick up one of them — “H.M. Pulham, Esq”.

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