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Daily Archive: July 9, 2014

Wednesday

9

July 2014

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The Lady’s Book of Manners

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Three Stars

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This book is not widely available online (although apparently you can get it from Amazon for a penny). It’s from a publisher in the UK that specializes in gift books; specifically ‘reprinting’ vintage books as a bit of a novelty. For example, this book claims to have come for a work originally published in London in the 1890s. Given my love of old etiquette books, I can at least vouch for the fact that many items in here are hilariously outdated, so they at least theoretically could have originated in a book from that time period.

I purchased this book when I came across it in a fantastic store filled with all manners of knick knacks, lotions and curios. I find them fascinating, and while the vast majority of the content is classist and sexist, some of it actually is intriguing. Some suggestions are actually not that bad – for example, spend four-five hours in the fresh air each day. Of course this assumes having four-five hours available for such leisure. But still. Can you imagine being able to do that? I have a 30-minute walk each way to work and I feel so lucky that I get than hour to myself, breathing (mostly) fresh air.

The book ranges from the extraordinarily detailed – “When tripping over the pavement, a lady should gracefully raise her dress a little above her ankle. With her right hand she should hold together the folds of her dress and draw them towards the right side.” – to the extremely general – “A lady is a lady at all times.” While some rules are patently outrageous (when referring to ‘servants’ “Never treat them as equals!”), some are quite lovely. For example, “Read such books as will enrich the mind, improve the heart, and add to the happiness and usefulness of your life.” Frankly, I think that’s kind of awesome.

If you happen across this book, and know someone who likes this sort of thing, this one won’t disappoint. But no need to seek it out if it’s not really your style.