An indispensable manual to navigating life from birth to death without making a false move.
Your neighbor denounces cellular telephones as instruments of the devil. Your niece swears that no one expects thank-you letters anymore. Your father-in-law insists that married women have to take their husbands' names. Your guests plead that asking them to commit themselves to attending your party ruins the spontaneity. Who is right? Miss Manners, of course. With all those amateurs issuing unauthorized etiquette pronouncements, aren't you glad that there is a gold standard to consult about what has really changed and what has not? The freshly updated version of the classic bestseller includes the latest letters, essays, and illustrations, along with the laugh-out-loud wisdom of Miss Manners as she meets the new millennium of American misbehavior head-on. This wickedly witty guide rules on the challenges brought about by our ever-evolving society, once again proving that etiquette, far from being an optional extra, is the essential currency of a civilized world.
Evoking the vaguely Victorian voice her "gentle readers" no doubt expect, Miss Manners imparts her personal brand of wisdom along with a lady-like amount of wit in this updated look at propriety. Martin, author of the "Miss Manners" columns and a variety of related books, speaks to readers' behavioral concerns typically by introducing a general topic area with a sharp-tongued essay, as she does with "Houseguests," which describes perfect and not-so-perfect guest behavior. She then provides her responses to a limited selection of questions related to the general topic. For instance, regarding guest behavior: When can one stop writing a frequently visited friend thank you notes? Her answer: Only when they appreciate being taken for granted. Though Miss Manners frequently refers to her "gentle readers," there is nothing gentle about her treatment of them. She never shies away from finger-pointing (or wagging), as she does when she chides a woman who engages in one-night stands for complaining about the lack of social follow-up on the part of her discarded men. Unlike etiquette books that take a more preventive approach, offering an encyclopedia-type reference to potentially awkward situations that allows readers to get quick, definitive advice, Miss Manners seems to assume the "gentle reader" has a lot of time for reading-and for puzzling through the answers to divine truly proper behavior or to find a way to apply it to their own situation. And while the questions reflect an updated look at today's etiquette conundrums-from email correctness to dealing with the unmarried pregnant women in our midst-the responses seem to convey weariness over the arrival of such new opportunities for graciousness. In the end, much of Miss Manners' advice can be summarized as: just grin and bear it and leave the snide remarks to pros like myself.