Here is the perfect little book for anyone—teenage or otherwise—who has ever wanted to master the art of good table manners. Written by Walter Hoving, former chairman of Tiffany's of New York, it is a step-by-step introduction to all the basics, from the moment the meal begins ("It is customary for the young man to help the young lady on his right to be seated") to the time it ends ("Remember that a dinner party is not a funeral, nor has your hostess invited you because she thinks you are in dire need of food. You're there to be entertaining"). In addition to the essentials about silverware, service, and sociability, it includes many of the fine points, too—the correct way to hold a fish fork, how to eat an artichoke properly, and, best of all, how to be a gracious dining companion.
Concise, witty, and illustrated with humor and style by Joe Eula, this classic guide to good table manners has delighted readers of all ages for more than 50 years.
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Warning this may be a biased review, but it
There may be two reasons I might be a bit biased in my review of this book.
The first is obvious, my grandfather wrote it.
The second is, he wrote it about me.
According to him, he wrote this book as an adverse reaction to my manners at the table. He described on a number of occasions to the press, to my utter horror I might add, a time when he was invited to my mother's house for lunch and witnessed first hand the atrocious table manners of his daughters first born son, who at the time, was 5 years old. I don't actually remember this event happening, being five at the time, but I have had to live with this story most of my life.
To say this traumatized me would probably not be fair, but it did affect my life in minor ways. Certainly it never helped having people observe my every movement at the table at every dinner party I have ever attended. They just sat there staring and waiting. Waiting for me to make some horribly disgusting and socially frowned upon move. Perhaps burp during the height of some interesting tale by a senator or governor, or worse, my grandfather..... or maybe even slurp down the dregs of my finger bowl, which was something I became particularly fond of doing!
I am in recovery today and thanks to BTMA (bad table manners anonymous) and constant reading of my Grandfathers book, I can honestly say that I have better manners today. It is a one day at a time thing, like so many other programs of recovery, and I have to remember that at any time, I could slip and dive for that fork or spoon dropped under the table, or go back to my beloved finger bowl, but I try to live a civilized life today, I try.
I think my grandfather would be proud!
All kidding aside, this book is honest, short and to the point. It can be read with ease in a matter of an hour. It's humorous and direct and does not ask the reader to read a small dictionary to learn the basic elements of what good manners are. Rather, it is simple and straightforward. Now we all know there are hundreds of these books on the market and some do well and others do not. This book published in 1961 has endured, stood the test of time, while others have come and gone.
Why, because it is so accessible. I have often pondered a follow up to this book, which I tentatively call Tiffany's Table Manners for Adults, and who knows maybe I'll write it someday. (One needs the blessing of the great institution and my pull is not what it used to be over there!) But I believe the world, and notably this country has lost, some of the simple things once taught by parents, that being plain ol good manners. Perhaps they are not learning them anymore. Maybe parents have little time in the rush of their daily lives to ensure these basic lessons are incorporated into their little one's lives. I don't know for sure but it shows in the attitude and behaviors of the young people I run into today. Perhaps there will be those that debate this but I think there will be those that will agree too. The book however is worth the money one might spend on it, there are no others that take the simple direct route to instilling what has all been lost in today's world, basic good manners, not only at the table but in every day life.
P.S.I recently found out that the United States Department of State, specifically the Foreign Services Institute uses this book as a reference in their handbook entitled "Protocol for the Modern Diplomat". I thought this was a real tribute to the content and manner in which this book was written.
Cute coffee table book. Makes me want to throw a dinner party (: