Louis Auchincloss
A close-up view of New York's social set
A close-up view of New York's social set

When he died a year ago last month at the age of 92, Louis Auchincloss had amassed an astonishing body of work over more than six decades: nearly 50 novels and story collections and 18 nonfiction books, many written while he was working as a distinguished lawyer. Though often denigrated for concentrating on the claustrophobic world of New York's Social Register set, in fact he delved deep into a protean world of inherited and self-made wealth, of insiders and interlopers, of icons and iconoclasts. Auchincloss was frequently hailed as a latter-day incarnation of Edith Wharton, but he owed at least as much to the French novelists Flaubert and Proust, who were his lodestars. Amazingly...