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

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3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  342 ratings  ·  97 reviews
“What would Emily Post do?” Even today, Americans cite the author of the perennial bestseller Etiquette as a touchstone for proper behavior. But who was the woman behind the myth, the authority on good manners who has outlasted all comers? Award-winning author Laura Claridge presents the first authoritative biography of the unforgettable woman who changed the mindset of mi...more
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Published October 14th 2008 by Random House (first published January 1st 2008)
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Kirsten
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
Pat
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
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
Cara
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.
Beth
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...more
Steven
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...more
Tess
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
Kathleen O'Mara
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...more
Catherine
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...more
Emily
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
Emily
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
Jo Oehrlein
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...more
Anne
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
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
Beth
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...more
Jim
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...more
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
Donna
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
Jenny
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...more
Jocelin
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
Erin
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...more
Kay
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
Lorri
When I had envisioned Emily Post, who I only knew as an authority on etiquette, I saw a dull matron who delights in scolding those around her. I found this while searching for books on the Gilded Age, a period i have been casually studying for the few years. My preconceived notions could not have been further from reality. Emily Post lived a fascinating life, helped by being the only child of wealthy parents who ran with Mrs. Astor's 400. Hardly stuffy or critical, Emily believed in hard work an...more
Nancy
I enjoyed this book. The historical aspects, inclusive of the Statue of Liberty build, were fascinating and well tied in to the narrative of Post's personal life. Post, having lived until age 87, far exceeded the life expectancy of her generation and kept her on her toes when trying to remain relevant and chasing after the new trends of etiquette among younger crowds. Not as rigid as always credited, she definitely accepted change to be a reality. She witnessed the stock market crash, the wars,...more
Mary
I loved this book and have a new found admiration for Emily Post. Although trivialized for being an etiquette expert I realized she had great character and it was her overall fortitude and grace that made her an American icon. The book could be tedious, as numerous social events and circumstances were cited. Overall it was a very interesting read and anyone interested in the Gilded Age should read this book. It is well researched as the author went through a seven year research and writing proce...more
Kathy
I am glad I read this book, in that I learned something about how womens' roles changed as America progressed from the Gilded Age to Post WWII. It also prompted me to reexamine principles of ettique and my own practice of good manners. The book was, though, a bit tedious and muddled, somehow. The author did not consistently employ a smooth, flowing narrative. I don't know, maybe that is hard to accompoish when doing a biography of this sort. I would recommend the book, but warn that you might fi...more
AmblingBooks
"Claridge is becoming the sort of biographer readers will follow anywhere�.this [is the] absorbing study of a keenly perceptive ethicist second only to Eleanor Roosevelt in the immensity of her influence�.Claridge greatly deepens our appreciation for Post's achievements and brings forward the impressive woman behind the do's and don'ts." � Booklist (starred review)

Listen to Emily Post on your iPhone, desktop, or smartphone.
Judy
Apr 28, 2009 Judy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in American history
Recommended to Judy by: bookclub
Had mixed feelings about this biography at first - it didn't seem to be about Emily herself - but then I realized all the "history" of the people and the age is what made her what she was. I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a great deal of American history and the society of all walks of life. She was quite an open-minded woman who learned as she aged and grew with it. I didn't realize what a celebrity she was for all of her long life and the influence she had on all of us. Well worth reading.
N. Lafave
The book was intersting, it went on a little longer than it should. Learn all kinds of interesting things, facts and details of the world Emily Post lived it. It was a story told style history lesson. After finishing the book, I went on the Google and looked up many topics and places discussed. It certainly gave a different view of EM than I had ever considered. Listened to it on tape, they was much detail and might have made reading tedious. Recommend the book (CD) highly.
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Since the early 1990s, Laura Claridge has authored several books, ranging from feminist theory to biography and popular culture of the 20th Century. Formerly an English professor, she has written Norman Rockwell: A Life (Random House/Modern Library 2001/2003) and Tamara de Lempicka: A Life of Deco and Decadence (Bloomsbury 2001/2003 [paperback] and Clarkson Potter/Crown/Random House 1999). Her bi...more
More about Laura Claridge...
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