MISS MANNERS' GUIDE TO DOMESTIC TRANQUILITY by Judith Martin

MISS MANNERS' GUIDE TO DOMESTIC TRANQUILITY

The Authoritative Manual for Every Civilized Household, However Harried

KIRKUS REVIEW

Miss Manners, who has never hesitated to man the barricades in defense of courtesy and consideration among friends, acquaintances, and business associates, steps out in her Wellingtons in setting guidelines for civilized behavior at home. Nevertheless, she tries nobly to defend the idea of home as warm refuge against the harsh world and deplores the current trend to substituting entertainment center for cheery hearth, parties as opportunities for professional advancement instead of “family merriment,” and baking bread instead of breaking bread. As always, Martin (Miss Manners’ Basic Training: The Right Thing to Say, 1998, etc.) is direct, pungent, and to the point. For instance, addressing the question “Why can’t private life be organized on a more businesslike basis?,” Miss Manners opines: “Because it’s not a business. You can’t fire the children.” She bravely continues, in the familiar format combining short essays on the pros and cons of modern family life with questions and answers from her “Gentle Readers,” to address such matters as how to deal with step-relatives, ex-relatives, relatives who have long-term relationships with married men, and getting along with neighbors. Some questions concerning blended and extended families deserve her serious consideration. Others, such as whether to close the bathroom door in view of dinner guests (an issue of “middle class morality”), leaves the reader—as it leaves Miss Manners—quite concerned about a generation that must consult an expert about whether or not to leave the bathroom door open or closed. Similar questions include serving the soup or the salad first or whether having a close friend’s child push for a charitable donation is appropriate. Miss Manners hopes that television is not dictating etiquette, but that homes are founded on “respect, generosity, hospitality and shared time and resources.” Miss Manners’s readers may find assistance here in establishing those parameters.

Pub Date: Oct. 20th, 1999
ISBN: 0-517-70165-0
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1999




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