In what may be his finest novel since The Rector of Justin, Louis Auchincloss offers his richest portrait yet of the manners and mores of the Establishment world he knows so well. The lady of situations is Natica Chauncey, the daughter of a ruined financier who is forced to rely on a kindly matron for her glancing acquaintance with the aristocracy of Long Island. But Natica is too clear-sighted to pretend that such a life, as much as it dazzles her, would satisfy her intellect. Coming of age at a time when anything more than a modest show of ambition does not become a lady, she must seek her own fortune in the fortunes of others. And so, with little more than her wits and determination, she makes her way through the social shoals of New England prep schools, Hudson Valley estates, and New York drawing rooms.
Natica sees herself as a Bronte sister "without the moors and without the genius"; her doting Aunt Ruth, a woman of less imagination but considerably more compassion, would contend merely that she has "an attractive personality and a first-class mind." But Natica has one thing more: a gift for finding opportunity in improbable situations, even at the risk of scandal. Almost in spite of herself, she emerges as an unlikely, and unforgettable, femme fatale. Shrewd, observant, and always graceful, The Lady of Situations is Auchincloss at his best, the work of a master storyteller.