Saturday, June 6, 2009

Book Review: Emily Post

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

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
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 gorgeous dress. It was the dress she wore for her 1890 debutante ball and I fell in love with the 19 yards of fabric and lace.

Emily Price Post born seven years after the Civil War was raised an only child from a wealthy family who lived on the edges of the elite. Her father was from a well to do Maryland family. Her mother was from a wealthy Pennsylvania coal family. Her uncle was an interesting character into a variety of projects including the building of the Statue of Liberty. Emily played in the foundations of the statue when she was a child, perhaps, a portent of her position in American culture as a foundation of social structure.

During her life time which spanned 80 + years, she saw the advent of the radio and television, transportation go from horse to auto and the launching of Sputnik, women’s vote, women’s rights and more.

Her personal acquaintanceships are the who’s who for many generations. Her personal accomplishments as a clothing designer, landscape designer, architect, interior designer, author, and radio personality are impressive. Her family life lacked directly because of her need to work obsessively indeed to her detriment. Her public persona of “just another working woman” got tiresome and I came to not like the older Emily Post.

Some fifty years after Mrs. Post’s passing her legacy fades because there are entire segments of the population who don’t have a dining room table and will never worry about which fork to use because they eat their food right out of the paper in which it’s wrapped.

But I still love that dress!

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