From Publishers Weekly
In her effervescent memoir, Baldrige, ambassador of etiquette, writes, "I disliked unfulfilled passions." She graduated Vassar in the mid-1940s and then, blessed with means, moxie and a voracious appetite for learning, she pursued her passions and led a life that was anything but ordinary for women at that time. Joining the U.S. Foreign Service in her 20s, she served in Paris as social secretary to Evangeline Bruce, the American ambassador's wife, and later to the U.S. ambassador in Rome, Clare Boothe Luce. These two women, Baldrige says, were among her greatest teachers. She tells of her subsequent work as the first female executive at Tiffany's under Walter Hoving, until the White House beckoned in 1960. For three years, she worked feverishly as social secretary to Jacqueline Kennedy until, overworked and contemplating the advice of Joe Kennedy, she quit. She soon opened her own, hugely successful PR firm in Chicago and then moved to New York, marrying in her mid-30s and having two children. With her plate already overflowing, she took on volunteering, lecturing, writing for newspapers and magazines, and writing books on etiquette and her experiences. A life lived so fully and at such a frenetic pace is scarcely to be believed at first, until one takes into account Baldrige's spirited will and work ethic. "I had always thought I was Wonder Woman without the steel bra." Readers may be disappointed by the gentle nature of the gossip and lack of scandal, but Baldrige's insight, humor and vivid encounters are sure to enthrall. Baldrige is an exemplary role model for women because she opened doors by refusing to accept that they were closed. (Oct 15) Forecast: If this sells, which it should, it will be not for revealing any secrets about Jackie Kennedy but for Baldrige's own admirable life.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Many know that Baldrige was Jackie Kennedy's White House social secretary and that she is the author of numerous etiquette and style books (e.g., Letitia Baldrige's Complete Guide to the New Manners for the 90's, 1990). What may not be so widely known is how she obtained the credentials to qualify for the White House position and become known as the late 20th century's etiquette expert. When she was fresh from a graduate program in international relations in Geneva, Baldrige served as the social secretary to ambassador and Mrs. David Bruce in Paris from 1948 to 1951 and then to the indomitable Clare Boothe Luce, ambassador to Italy, from 1953 to 1956. In this memoir, Baldrige tells in humorous and self-deprecating style about her service in those high-powered households. She fondly recalls memories of her White House years and the Kennedy family and relates many details of her subsequent career in public relations and publishing. Mainly an entertaining memoir with little discussion of international affairs, this book will appeal to library patrons who know Baldridge from her etiquette and amusing books. She is detailed but not bitter when describing the real lack of opportunity for women with her credentials. Recommended for public libraries. Jill Ortner, SUNY at Buffalo Libs.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.