Matters of Honor

Alfred A. Knopf

2007

ISBN#978-0-307-26525-8

 

Booklist Review

"Begley continues his sojourn among the elite with this absorbing novel about the nature of identity and the costs of assimilation. The novel's narrator is Sam, whose murky parentage and alcoholic parents have tainted his standing among his status-conscious Harvard classmates in the early 1950s. His two roommates are also outsiders--Archie, the spoiled son of an army officer, has a taste for the high life, while the brilliant Henry, a Polish refugee whose family survived the war in hiding, must constantly negotiate the fraught terrain between his devoted parents and his anti-Semitic classmates. Sam and Archie are eager to help Henry fit in, carefully schooling him on manners, clothes, and the right connections. Over the next decades, through, Henry is the one who achieves the greatest worldly success, making his fortune as an international investment banker. But a career snag provokes a much larger crisis, and Henry cuts off all previous ties. In full Henry James mode, Begley uses a lucid prose style to dispassionately eviscerate the upper classes even as he illuminates the true meaning of friendship."

By Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright American Library Association. All rights reserved


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Cover art property of Alfred A. Knopf--Do Not Reproduce

Copyright 2007, Louis Begley
Art work by Peter Begley--Do Not Reproduce