October 07, 1985 12:00 PM

by Louis Auchincloss

For anyone fatigued by the synthetic pictures of the rich created by many best-selling writers today, it’s always a relief to open a novel by Auchincloss. Despite a certain old-fashioned slickness, his prose has the ring of authenticity, a trait he has perfected in 40 books. The hero of his latest work is Chip Benedict, whose father has made a huge success of a glass-manufacturing company in Benedict, Conn. Chip is a golden boy. His parents believe in him, and their expectations are more than any young man could endure, especially one who believes that his sexual appetites (which seem fairly normal, if he only knew) make him evil and unworthy. He meets a beautiful but relatively unwealthy debutante who is engaged to another man, and despite parental disapproval on both sides, they marry. Much of this book is told in the first person by Chip’s wife. She is bright enough but, curiously, without much interest in anything, including her children and husband. Auchincloss shows absolutely no mercy toward any of his feckless characters. The lives portrayed in Honorable Men seem almost directionless. Is that the true curse of being born with vast wealth? (Houghton Mifflin, $15.95)

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