Stven's Reviews > Miss Manner's Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior

Miss Manner's Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior by Judith Martin
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Jul 18, 11


It feels as though I have been browsing this book for decades, and the publication date of 1983 suggests that feeling is correct. Miss Manners is not quite correct about everything -- some of what is taken as chilly politeness from an attractive woman might risk a punch in the nose for an ordinary male -- but she has a good ear for a situation and can often make an immensely sensible suggestion. What is a mother do about her son's new bride who never thanks her for a gift? Here is Miss Manners' suggestion: "Kimberly, dear, I never know what to get you," you say, patting her hand maternally. "I would so like to find something that pleases you, but you've never said a word about any of my presents and I'm so afraid you don't quite like them but are too polite to say so."

The foundation of this jiujitsu is the pointing of people in the right direction while managing not to accuse them of any wrongdoing, while indeed suggesting that it is oneself who has erred.

She has a lot of other good advice, and on some situations where there actually are specific conventions, she knows what they are and is happy to share the information.

What is the correct way to cancel one dinner party to go to another? Miss Manners says there is only one socially impeccable way of doing so: "Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Darling regret extremely that an invitation to the White House prevents their keeping their previous engagement for Saturday, the seventh of March."

This is a very amusing book that keeps bringing me back.
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