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

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  555 ratings  ·  121 reviews
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, 525 pages
Published November 6th 2008 by Random House (NY) (first published January 1st 2008)
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Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I had collected old Etiquette books for the longest time. I was fascinated with the manners of those old days, especially when housekeepers and servants were mentioned. My collection is boxed away and I can’t wait to dig them out. Not sure how many I still have. I did unearth the 1942 war time edition.

The book was low key and had lots of history. I couldn’t wait to get to the Etiquette book creation. It did surprise me how well it did. As did her popularity. For me this was a story about a woma
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: strong-women
For those that dont know who Emily Post was, she was an author who is best known for her books on etiquette. Born in 1872 and died in 1960, a large part of this book takes place at the turn of the century. Emily was a strong woman, ahead of her time. She was divorced and worked outside of the home when most women didnt. Most books written about this time portray poverty but Emily never wanted for anything. She saw a lot of history in her lifetime. It made me think about what it must have been li ...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
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: 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 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
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. ...more
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.
Carolyn Harris
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
This richly detailed biography of Emily Post begins slowly, placing her parents within the wider context of the gilded age then gains momentum, examining Emily's work as a novelist, businesswoman and etiquette expert within the context of the rapidly changing social mores of the 1920s and 1930s. Post belonged to an accomplised family. Her father, Bruce Price, designed the Chateau Frontenac and other Canadian Pacific Railway Hotels and stations and was even mistaken for the Duke of Connaught duri ...more
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Remarkable biography that covers Emily Post as far more than the First Lady of Manners, and is in fact a fascinating social biography of the Gilded Age through post-WWII. I thought about abandoning it in the early going, as the first chapters about her ancestors didn't draw me in much, but I stuck it out and after about 60-odd pages things started to move. I was most impressed by Post's many edits to Etiquette throughout the regularly updated editions due to economic upheavals like the Great Dep ...more
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
Aug 20, 2018 rated it liked it
I don't think this book is highly readable at all. I think it is bet suited for someone doing research into Emily's life. It reads like a doctoral thesis or a college textbook. Not easy to read at all! That being said it is indeed an informative biography of her life. I had no idea she was divorced and supported herself. I found it shocking that her grandson Bill had no idea there was a second family out there through his grandfather. Neither Emily or his father Ned mentioned the fact that Bill ...more
Jan 23, 2020 rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading about both the subject (Emily Post) as well as the overview of the time in which she lived. The biography is very thorough and often includes names and associations that might be more meaningful to an older generation (and I"m 62). So interesting that she was a woman of her day and yet at the same time, ahead of her time. I like the way Laura Claridge not only discussed Emily's overall view of manners (as a way to live gracefully and thoughtfully), but included the way men ofte ...more
Jul 04, 2018 rated it liked it
A bit too long, but then she had a very long and relatively full life. Following her divorce, Post became a business woman as much as a best selling author. What I found interesting is how the many revisions of Etiquette from 1922 to 1955 parallel the cultural history of the U.S. during those decades. Extensively (TMI?) researched, this book goes way beyond a portrait of Emily Post and serves as a socio-cultural history of women of a certain class during that time, with all their privilege and r ...more
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.
Emily Post may have been a fascinating person, but that doesn't really come through in this biography. It was interesting to learn that she'd been a fiction writer as well as famous for her books on etiquette. On the whole, however, this was rather dry, slow, and repetitive. It was a bit of a slog to make it through to the end.

Mar 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
So much detail it was hard to see the story of the woman who bridged the distance from Victorian manners to modern. Emily Post's personal and professional stories are far more interesting than I expected, but I felt the myriad weaving of connections between influential people clogged up the book with tedious information. ...more
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.
Oct 16, 2019 added it
Way, way too much information. Author's addition of what must have been tons of research made book too much to plod through. ...more
Jul 10, 2020 rated it did not like it
I wanted to like this book but I just can’t read another page. So....dry? Tedious? Boring?
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
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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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