A Gentleman’s Guide to Graceful Living
Michael Dahlie

Norton, W. W. & Company
Hardcover/281 pages
ISBN: 978-0393066173
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". . . offers a different picture of a man with money . . ."

A Gentleman’s Guide to Graceful Living: A winning and wonderful glimpse into a not-so-perfect millionaire’s life.

Arthur Camden’s wife, Rebecca, leaves him. His family business fails while he is I charge. All the women his friends have fixed him up with have turned him down flat, and the outlook isn’t getting any better.

Feeling more like hiding than picking up the shattered remains of his quiet life, Arthur finds himself facing some hard truths. The men he has known for years and counted as friends don’t feel as strongly as he does about friendship. A childhood friend’s invitations to visit him in France are nothing more than polite conversation. All Arthur knows is that he loves his sons, and he can’t get a handle on his life. He’s drifting, and he spends more time being embarrassed and hiding than actually living. Something has to change.

It’s hard to feel sympathy for a man who grew up in the lap of wealth, but Michael Dahlie manages just that with Arthur Camden’s tale of confusion and woe. It seems that Arthur has it all – family, position, wealth and connections – but he is befuddled and confused and timid, uncertain where he fits into the scheme of things and ashamed of not knowing how to move forward. Arthur is a social klutz without polish, but a charming klutz who makes the reader want to take him by the hand and teach him how to enjoy life.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Graceful Living offers a different picture of a man with money and family who is just as confused as the average guy drifting along the stream of his life without a clue that it is falling apart. Arthur handles his downward spiral with a shy and quiet acceptance, uncertain about what went wrong. Dahlie deftly handles what could have been a maudlin and unsympathetic situation with taste and a quiet style that perfectly matches Arthur’s meandering bewilderment without resorting to melodrama or bloated prose. The writing is clean and the edges soft with just a hint of irony. Arthur’s slow, and sometimes painful, awakening is superbly managed in Dahlie’s uncluttered and direct prose. A Gentleman’s Guide to Graceful Living is just the thing for a slow and enjoyable summer read.


Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell