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Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners

3.51  ·  Rating Details  ·  413 Ratings  ·  105 Reviews
In an engaging book that sweeps from the Gilded Age to the 1960s, award-winning author Laura Claridge presents the first authoritative biography of Emily Post, who changed the mindset of millions of Americans with Etiquette, a perennial bestseller and touchstone of proper behavior.

A daughter of high society and one of Manhattan’s most sought-after debutantes, Emily Price m
Paperback, 560 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published January 1st 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,293)
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Sarah Beth
Born in 1872, Emily Price Post was the only child of the prominent architect Bruce Price and his wife Josephine. Emily grew up in New York, friends with the Astors, Roosevelts, Morgans, and Vanderbilts. She became a sought-after debutante, before marrying Edwin Price when she was just eighteen. Emily adored her father her whole life and likely sought to replicate this relationship in her marriage, yet it was clear from the start that Emily and Edwin were ill-suited and he took to increasingly sp ...more
Sep 13, 2012 Tess rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, etiquette
While Emily Post herself is fascinating, I think this book mostly dives into the most mundane of facts concerning her - where she went on such and such a day, what she was doing when such and such an event took place. I was looking for a more personal look at her, and for someone to sum up and make sense of her life on a higher level (rather than just recounting minutiae). Instead, there are long-winded passages full of conjecture, like "The low rumble of the tires against the gravel, lulling th ...more
Jo Oehrlein
May 09, 2012 Jo Oehrlein rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
It took me a long time to make my way through this book, but I found it really interesting. It's cool how Emily Post basically "happened upon" writing about etiquette. It's at least halfway through the book (and probably more) before you get to that point, though.

Like all good stories about southerners, the book starts with Emily's family. It talks about her grandparents and spends a LOT of time on her parents.

I'm not sure the biographer really liked Emily. She seemed to think Emily didn't do en
Jill Hutchinson
I love biographies,love the Gilded Age scene and, believe it or not, have one of Emily Post's early etiquette books, bequeathed to me from my grandmother. Frankly, it is a better read that this biography. The first half was fairly interesting as it went into detail about the early years of Mrs. Post's life in the age of sevants,formal teas, and limitless wealth But like the majority of other reviewers, I found that the second half of the book really started to drag and I found my attention wande ...more
Apr 15, 2009 Donna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was disappointed by this book. It turned out to be more of a history book that felt like required reading for a college class rather than an interesting biography about a unique woman from history. The author includes way too much information about things that had no direct relevance to Emily Post, such as the society balls that were big when she was a child and all of the organizations her father belonged to. As much as I love history, I found this to be boring and dry. I was learning more ab ...more
Sep 05, 2008 Kirsten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an engaging portrait of Emily Post. Her life spanned the post-Civil War era to the Kennedy administration, and reflects many of the societal changes that took place in that era. I had no idea she was a novelist *and* amateur architect. (I will have to look for her novels.) The best sections are the first half (her childhood and youth) and the ones detailing her work on _Etiquette_; otherwise the book does tend (as biographies so often do) to get a little bogged down in superfluous detail ...more
Jan 22, 2012 Pat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an amazing woman so far ahead of her times! Not content to spend her life following her husband's endless sailing or following her friends in their pursuit of the gilded life in the Gilded Age. She blazed the trail that her father introduced her to as an independent woman who loved being in charge. You will be amazed at what she accomplished besides writing her famous Etiquette book that was at one point the most referenced book in the world. A well researched, excellent "read" of the early ...more
Chris Young
Jul 22, 2014 Chris Young rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I never read a single book by Emily post. Never the less I still found her interesting. Mostly by the glowing recommendation of both my wife and my daughter. So when I found this audiobook at my library I decided to find out a little more about her. What I found is most surprising. My first surprise was her family. Born a Baltimore blueblood her grandfather, her father and her son, all architects are collectively responsible for building over 60 buildings bridges and other structures in New York ...more
Jan 12, 2015 Poppy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I have mixed feelings about this book. I'm a huge fan of Emily Post; I own several editions of Etiquette as well as How to Behave, Though a Debutante and The Personality of a House. It's obviously not the subject that bothers me.

I guess it boils down to Claridge's writing. Although the book is well-researched, the narrative is bogged down with data. For example, Claridge includes descriptions of many of Emily's outfits, but never discusses the significance of clothing in Emily's life. Likewise,
Sherri Stephens
I didn't know a lot about Emily Post prior to reading this book but wow! Not only did she do her famous book on etiquette but she wrote other books as well. Her personal life was full of sadness the loss of her parents, her child, and her marriage. She was a woman born after the Civil War reared during the Victorian Age, mature during the Gilded but was a feminist. Although she wouldn't have agreed with that assessment. She was a mother, writer, and independent thinker well before that was accep ...more
Jan 29, 2016 Erika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I enjoyed this book immensely. The writing style is easy, accessible and very enjoyable.

The author seamlessly interweaves the life and history of Emily Post with the people and times of her life, giving a full portrait of what it was like to live in the "Gilded Age" and how a personality such as Emily Post was created.

My only real criticism is that the last few chapters felt more like listing the changes she made in her book, and her professional appearances rather than actually discussing her l
Feb 09, 2014 Cara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
I wish I had purchased this book instead of just getting it from the library. I keep finding myself wanting to go back and reference it.
Dec 02, 2009 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I haven't updated in a while, part of the reason is because I have been studying for my licensing exams and moving and so forth, but I finally took a break and read this biography of Emily Post, which I had been anticipating reading for quite some time.
Emily Post has always been a name synonymous with manners and etiquette, but Claridge, the authoress, delves deep into Post's life and brings forth to the reader a new dimension to a seemingly pigeonholed woman. Post's achievements as a fiction au
I remember Emily Post's Etiquette being listed among the essentials of a basic reference collection during a course I took back in my library school days. As a young 20-something, I remember wondering if Emily Post was even a real person. I also remember thinking I would probably never have to consult this book out in the "real world."

And, admittedly, I haven't really used it to answer questions on the reference desk. Turns out today's 20-somethings aren't all that interested in etiquette, eithe
Kathleen O'Mara
Jun 06, 2009 Kathleen O'Mara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Emily Post Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of Manners came into my life on a whim. I clearly judged the book by the cover. I wasn’t particularly interested in Emily Post. Sure, I knew about the little Blue Book that had influence many generations in America. But I hadn’t given the author much thought, in spite of her name being, 50 years after her death, a household name. What drew me to the book was the cover. I absolutely loved the dress.

The photo is of Emily Price wearing the most gorge
I picked up this book solely due to my mother's ongoing complaints about her own mother's obsession on Emily Post's etiquette. Growing up, my mother received gentle reprimands on the proper Post way to spoon up soup or how it was more proper to say "glasses" rather than "cups." Needless to say, my mother scowled at me when I told her I was reading a bio on Emily Post.
This ended up being a decent enough biography though more than one sentence had a strange turn and more then a few sentences didn
Sep 06, 2008 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2008
This book was an eerily good fit for a personal study of biographies I'm doing, so I was thrilled to get a copy through the Early Reviewers program. I found it to be an engaging, well-written study that strikes a good balance between specific detail about its subject, and contextual detail about the social and national milieu in which she moved. I also found the subject, Emily Post, to be a surprisingly sympathetic character - not that I expected to dislike her, but I was impressed at the degree ...more
Mar 10, 2009 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While the idea of etiquette is quaint for many today, little about the way Emily Post advised her readers was. Emily was the child of progressive, educated parents who supported her curiosity about the world. Her marriage ended in scandal and divorce, but from that, Emily supported herself as a working woman; first, as a writer of fiction, and later, as the arbiter of manners. As a divorced woman from one of New York's good families, Emily knew better than most how social mores change over time ...more
Jul 13, 2015 Kristine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book more than I thought I would. Not only did I learn a lot about the life of Emily Post, but I also gained new insights about the time period between 1872 and 1960 and the radical changes that occurred in the lives of those who lived then. I have always known of Emily Post and her influence on America, but this book gave me a greater appreciation of the woman and the profound impact she had. I gave the book four stars instead of five because sometimes I got bogged down in all the ...more
Mar 05, 2009 Anne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
I wish there was a 2.5 star rating. Part of the fault lies with me. I always get suckered in by biographies, but I don't like them all that much. This book starts with a detailed examination of Emily Post's parents life, her husband's life, and the age in which she grew up. When I was reading that, I couldn't wait to get to the point at which she wrote Etiquette . When I finally got to that point, the book became more of a list of accomplishments. The narrative also was confusing at times, one ...more
Kim Ess
Jan 18, 2016 Kim Ess rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This author, trying to hold interest, was so minute in every single detail of her description on Post's life. She forced me to finish it just because I felt some odd necessity to do so. This was a very mundane but honorable woman that just happened to set in place societal rules that still hold true to this day.
Linda Barry
Nov 02, 2015 Linda Barry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful life and a real ahead of her times kinda of woman. She championed the rights of working married women in 1920's and beyond, she enjoyed her family, but experienced a great deal of heartache as well. One of the most interesting tidbits in the book was that she designed and had build one of the first co-ops in NYC and hers boasted 100% of residents were listed in the society pages! A great force to be reckoned with was she! Entertainingly written and worth the time to learn about ...more
Diann Blakely
For Emily Post, the best revenge may not have been writing well, but writing profitably. Humiliated by a scandal involving her husband, Post abandoned a none-too-successful career in writing fiction for penning advice columns on etiquette, a project that grew into a book that . . . grew. And sold. And sold. As the years went by, and times changed, Post democratized *Etiquette* to make room for butler-, valet-, footman- and maid-less households where wives entertained, cooked and served guests th ...more
Dec 29, 2008 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really well-written, well-researched biography. I appreciated Claridge's efforts to show the complexity of Post's philosophy of etiquette and the author's highlighting of the media coverage and treatment of Post and her work as having often missed the point or simplified what her book and its many editions were trying to do. Claridge argues that Post was careful to update her book over the years (1922 to late 1950s) to reflect the changing mores and her own growing awareness of things like eco ...more
Donna Jo Atwood
Emily Post became one of the premier etiquette dispensers of her day--and for many days following. This story of her life is set within the society of her times--she was born in 1872 (or 3, depending on the source) and lived until 1958. Her foray into the world of writing etiquette books was born in scandel her husband brought upon the family. She had been a novelist before that time, so being an author was nothing new.
In a way the author includes way too much background material, interrupting
May 06, 2010 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm finding Emily's life and times fascinating - she was one busy lady - and even more than just a chronicle, Ms. Claridge brings the age to light and reveals the society of the era to be more three dimensional and human than we're used to seeing from movies about the Gilded Age, and Emily lives well beyond it and into the 20th century. It's especially interesting to see the evolution of society and morals as time marches on, money changes hands and the 'rules' with them.

The lively details about
Feb 09, 2013 Jenny marked it as partially-read  ·  review of another edition
Washington Post review by Amanda Vaill

1/22/13, about 65 pages in: pretty slow so far, though there was a lot of biographical information about Emily's parents and grandparents. The author is hitting the same themes over and over again: that Emily idolized her father, that she understood money and its uses, that her parents treated their servants well and Emily learned from their example, that New York was growing architecturally as well as socially (new money crowding old money). I'm not loving
Oct 10, 2009 Jocelin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biographical
This was a very interesting book. There were so many parellels of what was going on during Emily Post's time and now. There was social upheavals, economic downturns, changing technology and many other challenges that faced the American family. It is a very long book and some parts are not that interesting, while others are. When you think of Emily Post, you tend to think of elegant dinner parties and immaculate manners of the upper crust. Emily Post was really interested in bring civility and gr ...more
Quite a good biography! Emily was a bit of a historian's or biographer's dream; she kept obsessively detailed records even though she claimed not to keep a "diary". The job of figuring out what she prioritized in her daily life, who and what she valued, how she felt, was probably more a matter of weeding through far too much material than hunting for anything to go on.

If you only know Emily Post by reputation as a fussy old-fashioned purveyor of rules about forks, try this or "By Motor to the G
Dec 05, 2008 Kay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first chapter is a grabber -- sex, blackmail, headlines -- but then reverts to the standard grandparents-to-grave biography format. She lived in interesting times, but Emily herself was only a mildly interesting person (at least to me after reading this book). She fancied herself a novelist and her etiquette book was never her dream job but a topic suggested by her publisher. She became famous for it mostly because the distinctive blue cover bore only the title "Etiquette" and "Emily Post" b ...more
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Laura Claridge has written books ranging from feminist theory to biography and popular culture, most recently the story of an American icon, Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners (Random House), for which she received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant. This project also received the J. Anthony Lukas Prize for a Work in Progress, administered by the Nieman ...more
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