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Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 14, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Bookmarks Magazine

Despite her limited access to Emily Post's personal papers, Laura Claridge does her best to bring Post to life against the ever-changing cultural landscape of the early 20th century. While the New York Times praised Claridge as an "exhaustive researcher," other critics complained of the author's frequent digressions and the glut of useless information: "Do we need the curtain time of the production in which Emily had a bit part at age 6?" bemoans the New York Times Book Review. Some critics also questioned Claridge's interpretation of facts and her unfamiliarity with matters of etiquette. However, Claridge does succeed in unveiling the fun-loving, banjo-playing workaholic behind the myth—and forever demolishes the image of the fussy prude obsessing over fork usage.
Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Given the ubiquitousness of her repeatedly revised magnum opus, Etiquette, first published in 1922, we think of Emily Post as an institution rather than a human being. But she was a woman of substance and sensitivity. The first to fully portray this pioneer, Claridge is becoming the sort of biographer readers will follow anywhere, and one hopes she’ll continue in the vein that yielded Norman Rockwell (2001) and now this absorbing study of a keenly perceptive ethicist second only to Eleanor Roosevelt in the immensity of her influence. A child of privilege born in the wake of the Civil War, smart and beautiful Emily Price married a rascal. The pain and humiliation of her divorce from Edwin Post fostered her devotion to writing (she was a successful novelist) and seeded the compassion and advocacy for women that shaped her highly moral approach to etiquette. Claridge chronicles Post’s remarkable ability to discern the needs of a burgeoning American public transformed by immigration, industrialization, war, and women’s and civil rights, and hungry for guidance in social and familial situations. A best-selling writer and hugely popular radio personality, Post equated etiquette with character and ensured a “democratization of manners.” Claridge greatly deepens our appreciation for Post’s achievements and brings forward the impressive woman behind the do’s and don’ts. --Donna Seaman
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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1St Edition edition (October 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375509216
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375509216
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.5 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #615,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Laura Claridge has written the definitive biography of Emily Post. A long account at nearly 550 pages, the author has included every piece of information about her family of origin, her childhood, disasterous marriage and arbitrator of American manners. Fortunately, her chatty conversational style of writing saves the reader when one reads information that has little to do with the story. Ms. Post had an interesting life that became immortal when she decided to write a book about proper behavior in 1922. Being the first to do so made her famous and alone in her field for three decades. The author includes the cultural surroundings of her life to make this a book for the reader to go back in time. Her life stretched from the post Civil War era to the post World War II era until her death at the age of 88.
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Format: Hardcover
Emily Post is written with thorough attention to detail, skillfully intertwining the private, public, and mythical icon into a very real person. Ms. Claridge intersperses this biography on with so many entertaining anecdotes that despite being a lengthy biography, it has a light touch. Ms. Claridge's writing has the wonderful combination of being both intellectually satisfying and very readable at the end of a long day.
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Format: Paperback
Ms. Claridge's book provides a fascinating of an amazing person that goes against all assumptions one might make about a legendary arbiter of social behavior. Unfortunately in the biographer's eagerness to include events and people to historically place Ms. Post, she makes mistakes on basic information that even a Wikipedia search would supply with more accuracy. One example, concerning the psychologist and industrial engineer Lillian Gilbreth: "Lillian's marriage and children had been immortalized by the bestselling book 'Cheaper by the Dozen' written by her now deceased husband Frank..." A simple check would have shown Ms. Claridge that the book was written by two of Lillian and Frank's children Ernestine Carey and Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr. This is just one of a few basic errors that are to be found and which could have been easily avoided. Such sloppiness could make the reader wonder about the veracity of the facts regarding Emily Post herself and, to me, ruins an otherwise entertaining and readable biography.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I somehow have found myself reading a lot about the Gilded Age late, so this book felt very comfortable to me. I hadn't expected it to be quite so long, but I wouldn't take any part of it away, having finally finished it. The story of Emily Post's life spans so many interesting decades, with such dramatic changes in American society, that reading her story is a kind of history lesson.

One thing that I came to appreciate is how very young the United States is. What you think about the wealthy and why they are are wealthy and what it does to them is for you to decide.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a well-researched and well-written biography of a woman who was far more interesting than I'd ever imagined. The author does a good job of portraying the changing eras in which Post lived, as well as the "everyday" lives of America's wealthy "Society" members. There are also lots of the interesting "gee I didn't know that" factoids that delight me . . . such as: approximately 1/4th of the people in America attended the 1893 Columbian Exposition (great World Fair) in Chicago; or, women didn't eat in restaurants without an accompanying male until almost the turn of the century and the famous Delmonico's was one of the first to have a ladies' luncheon room.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book is long, and some of the chapters are slow moving. There is a lot of background material about Emily, some of which is really interesting, and the historical material kept my interest. But I could have done with less detail -- might be good for a person who really wants to study biographies in detail.
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Format: Paperback
This book was reccommended by the magazine Good Housekeeping, and that alone intrigued me. It is a long book, as others here have stated. And it should be as Emily Post had such a long bountiful life. This book is rich in descriptions of how Emily Post as well as her family and her friends lived during the Gilded Age. For me it was a page turner as the author took a a one-dimensional person -- I only knew her as the "maven of manners" --and told a facinating and amazing account of the life of Emily Post. She was a trail blazer for women and lived life to the max. Who knew she rendered architctural designs, configured the first co-op, broke through that never to do divorce and authored novels? This book is as rich as Emily Post.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A good but long read...the first half of the book deals with Mrs. Post before her divorce ... the second half is after her divorce for Edwin Post and her writing and Interior Design careers...in the first half the reader is not to sure that the writer has her subject in very high esteem, the second the author becomes more sympathetic to her subject. This may be due to the authors illness and the when she wrote each part.

This is a detailed biography not only about Emily Post but American culture from post Civil War to the 1960's. Tracing this evolution through the work of Emily is not a unique idea but Ms. Claridge does a good job of blending the transitions through the writing of the ten editions of Ms. Post main body of work on American manners.
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