From the Dust Jacket:
In telling the story of the late George Apley of Boston (1866-1933) Mr. Marquand has drawn through Bostonian eyes the portrait of a gentleman of the era and a picture as well of that preposterous facade of manners which a still powerful Puritan influence erected to protect itself from the insidious dangers of inherited wealth; a facade which placed family against humanity, companionship against passion and conventions against reality.
The novel takes the form of a memoir prepared “at the request of the family” by an old and sympathetic friend. At his disposal were placed all of Mr. Apley’s letters and papers. The letter from George Apley’s son making the request was not unusual. It ended, “My main preoccupation is that this thing should be real. You know, and I know, that father he guts.”
“The Late George Apley” is much more than just another move about Boston. Mr. Marquand has created a great character in Apley, and has painted an understanding picture of the short golden age of American security. And yet, by this tender method, Mr. Marquand has also achieved a powerful indictment of a misguided mind, and a bitter satire of a mentally decadent society-a fascinating, effective, and provocative book.
I made it about two thirds of the way through this book before things got busy and I’ll admit, it was a very easy book to put down and not pick back up again. Which is exactly what happened for 6 months. And much of the ease I found in putting this book aside can be attributed to the subtlety of the social critique in the book. In fact, it is not until the last third of the book (which I only arrived at after starting over again from the beginning recently), that this critique and satire becomes apparent to someone almost 80 years removed from the novel. And in hindsight, it is a much better book than I initially gave it credit for when I first put it down so many months ago. Continue reading