From Publishers Weekly
Manners "give us... a feeling that if we do the right thing and avoid the wrong thing, everything will be all right." But, notes manners expert Baldrige, they can also help us attain happiness. That's right; knowing how much to tip a hotel maid can help you achieve internal bliss. Baldrige explains: "When you're nice to someone else... that someone else is nice back to you, and suddenly two people feel good about themselves and each other, and spread their feelings." A stretch, perhaps, but still, an admirable approach to manners. Baldrige differentiates between etiquette and manners (the former is a set of behavior rules; the latter teaches one how to value another's self-esteem), and illuminates both. She covers relationships, rites of passage, entertaining, gift giving, difficult times and communication. Although it's a bit overwhelming at first, the work is broken down into reasonable categories. And there's certainly something to be said for a book that can explain the difference between various caviar varieties, tell you how to write a thank-you note and suggest how to bring up the subject of condoms while on a date. Baldrige, ever hip to today's customs, addresses modern realities such as late marriages and e-mail, and can be quite funny (perhaps unintentionally, as when she lists "complete turnoff questions never to ask a single person," such as "bet you're desperate to get married, aren't you?"). Throughout, she keeps her focus on "real manners," for example, "[I]t's not worthwhile wondering who should go through the revolving door first, but it is worthwhile rushing to help an elderly or disabled stranger through the revolving door..--t's not worthwhile wondering who should go through the revolving door first, but it is worthwhile rushing to help an elderly or disabled stranger through the revolving door."
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
At last, a guide to doing the right thing in an age in which things change quickly. Many readers will turn to Baldrige's latest not only to bone up on marriage etiquette when "blended" families are involved ("the deserted spouse refrains from talking against the new spouse that has taken her place") or the bride is pregnant (dress guides are provided for varying stages of the condition) but also on proper invitations for homosexual unions (names of hosts are listed in alphabetical order) and how to offer a companion a condom when he is not prepared. Though an advocate of chastity outside of marriage, Baldrige has provided guidance for just about any and every situation that might arise in our fast-paced world. From table manners, a must in an age when so many have been raised eating dinner in front of the TV or computer monitor, to the proper seating of the wedding party, the book takes the ignorance and indecision out of all variety of manners-related issues. Whitney ScottCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved