Books: Old Love the Last Blossom on the Plum Tree

by Brooke Astor Random House; 244 pages; $16.95

The scenes vary from Portofino to Harlem to the Savoy, but the '20s are coming to a close, the Depression is imminent, and no matter how far the wealthy wander and caper, their journeys are bound to end in sorrow.

That sense of the ominous haunts Brooke Astor's novel: the worst is waiting to occur immediately after the curtain falls on the kind of fiction that has been out of style since the period it concerns. In this dry, sparkling comedy of manners, reminiscent of Edith Wharton's lighter works, the glitter is incessant. Emily Codway, a widow of a certain age...

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