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

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  483 Ratings  ·  112 Reviews
Published by Random House, 2008, this highly readable First Edition has 544 pages. Award-winning author Laura Claridge presents the first authoritative biography of this interesting woman who changed the lifestyle of millions of Americans, an engaging book about the diva of manners that influenced American society from the Gilded Age to the 1960s.
Hardcover, 544 pages
Published October 14th 2008 by Random House (first published January 1st 2008)
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Sarah Beth
Feb 22, 2016 rated it liked it
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
Dec 08, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: etiquette, biography
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 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jill Hutchinson
Jun 05, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography
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
Nov 08, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Will Cubbedge
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great biography of a Gilded Age life whose influence continues to ripple through time and space. It flows well, and is exhaustively detailed. Unexpected Takeaway: Learned by analysis of surviving menus from Mrs. Post's social life that damn near every supper served during this period featured turtle soup. The creatures were nearly hunted to extinction to feed the craze.
Jan 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Trey McIntyre
Sep 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really fascinating story of Emily Post's life. Interestingly, the thing Mrs. Post is most known for -- her work on etiquette -- came late in her life, but she was rather well-accomplished for a woman of her time before that. She also did some minor work in design and architecture as well as fiction writing.

While Post seems like she was a pleasant woman, she also seems really vapid and silly at points in her life. Her political views were very under-developed and I don't think she spent much time
Nov 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Emily Post had a very interesting life. I like how she created opportunities for herself to become financially independent and that she was such a hard working woman. I especially liked all the details about her famous architect father.

I didn’t like the authors attitude about Emily’s life compared to now days.
Lisa Staltari
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Totally engrossing!

I truly had no idea about this remarkable woman! She was a trailblazer long before it became popular. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about this remarkable woman!!
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent research. Very readable. Surprisingly interesting topic. The author did an excellent job of always framing Emily Post in context.
Mar 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting to learn about Emily Post, but not a swoon worthy book.
Aug 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 05, 2015 rated it liked it
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,
Kathleen O'Mara
Mar 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 27, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Oct 28, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Chris Young
Jul 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Sherri Stephens
Oct 06, 2014 rated it liked it
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 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
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
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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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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