Picks and Pans Review: August People

updated 05/20/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/20/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Ralph Graves

Here we are in a territory that's been claimed for years by Louis Auchincloss: a world that belongs to the very rich. The prosperous folks in August People are a self-centered lot. Charles Winderman, 69, and his family traditionally spend August on 49.3 acres of prime beachfront property he owns on an island in the Atlantic. As his two sons and daughter grew families of their own, he built summer houses for each on the property. Money is plentiful—the family owns an exceedingly profitable private bank. (Indeed no one much cares that at the big party of the summer, the lobsters alone cost $600.) Winderman runs his family like a benevolent despot—he thinks he always knows what's best for everyone. The old man is certain that deck-painting day, the family tennis tournament and his annual birthday party are rituals that must survive intact. Things reach a climax when Winderman, a snob to the core, refuses to allow one of his granddaughters to bring a handsome young islander to the big party. His new daughter-in-law thinks he is wrong, and she sets out to break the old man's powerful rule. The author, a former managing editor of LIFE and retired editorial director of Time Inc., seems perfectly at home with this family. He knows exactly how these people dress, what songs they sing on the beach at night, how they mix their martinis, and how they feel about outsiders. August People is a comedy of manners in which Graves provides a notably clear picture of a special social group—and he winds up his glossy story with a surprising, sentimental and welcome twist. (Doubleday, $16.95)

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