If someone had told me a few months ago what book I was going to read today, I would have laughed myself to death. This is so far from my taste in boo...moreIf someone had told me a few months ago what book I was going to read today, I would have laughed myself to death. This is so far from my taste in books it's unreal. Generally speaking I of course get a lot of fun out of those old-fashioned etiquette rules and advice for women (thanks Retronaut for the many laughs), but reading an actual book on those topics wouldn't have crossed my mind. However, when I stumbled across Hillis's book a while back, it just looked so cute and endearing, that I had to add it on my to read -list. I also understood that it's apparently not a guide book on how to snatch a good husband and therefore getting rid of the ugly single-status, which apparently was a huge problem back then.
There's a couple of main thoughts that Hillis repeats every once in a while: money does not equal good taste, you don't need a big pay check to organize your life into a nice one, and it's ok to pamper yourself even though there's no one to see your lace nightgown. The advice are gentle but firm, but Hillis emphasizes, that in the end everyone does what they think is best. You can ignore all her advice, but if you sit alone in your apartment all day long, don't complain that you're bored and without friends. The book also takes on account that living alone may not have been your choice, for example if you've gotten divorced. Hillis says that the intention of her book is to encourage women to embrace their situation, but not to defend living alone as the best option. You get to do what you want when you want, but you still don't have to suffer loneliness if you just take the bull by the horns, and go out the door with an open mind.
There are only a few things that reveal the publishing year, like mentions on etiquette and clothing. A Lady and Her Liquor -chapter was fun. Apparently Martini, Manhattan, and (familiar for Mad Men -fans) Old-fashioned were the drinks that everyone should have known how to make. There was some of the conception that women should dress elegantly, which doesn't really apply today. However, Hillis's advice are mostly quite general, so a modern woman can still get at least something out of them without having to be a career woman in 1930s New York.
I smiled, when I noticed two things that apply to my life quite well: the apartment doesn't have to be messy, even though outsiders aren't there to see it everyday; you can eat well even if you're alone and feel like eating convenience foods in the kitchen straight from the boxes. No huge revelations, but still a fun and light read.(less)
3.5 stars. At times a bit disorganised, but mostly clear and approachable general overview, that speaks out strongly against double standards and femi...more3.5 stars. At times a bit disorganised, but mostly clear and approachable general overview, that speaks out strongly against double standards and feminists' point of views. I won't go into my personal opinions here, so I'm just going to say that I don't entirely understand renting your body to all kinds of creeps in these modern times, if there are other opportunities available. Roberts's convincing arguments and prostitutes' own comments however gave me a lot to think about, like whether it's fair to label prostitutes as criminals or not. So, I may not understand the modern sociological aspect yet, but historically this is an intriguing topic. Especially the case of courtesans, women who were able to be independent and stinking rich without having to marry some idiot who would treat you like a puppet.
The woman of the book cover is a Storyville prostitute, and can be seen in this wonderful set photographed by E. J. Bellocq.(less)