Friday 25 November 2016

Book ~ "The Butler Speaks: A Return to Proper Etiquette, Stylish Entertaining, and the Art of Good Housekeeping" (2013) Charles MacPherson

From GoodreadsIn a clear straightforward style, Charles MacPherson lays out the essentials of entertaining and household management in this beautifully illustrated style, etiquette and entertainment guide.

For anyone who rents or owns - be it a small urban condo or a lavish country estate, "The Butler Speaks" includes everything you need to know to simplify, organize and care for your home. 

It also offers modern advice on personal style and etiquette - how to receive guests; present your business card; make polite dinner conversation - and advice on entertaining at home - how to make a cheese plate; hold your cutlery; set a table - all with the flair, charm and unpretentious grace of the butler.

I read an article in the Toronto Star this week in which Charles MacPherson was interviewed and answered some questions about the dos and don'ts of restaurant behavior.  The article mentioned that he had written a book called The Butler Speaks and I thought it would be interesting (and it was).

The book has five parts:
  1. The tradition of service - includes the history of the tradition of service along with a listing and hierarchy of jobs in an Edwardian household, staff greeting line, and proper conduct as per the French Jesuits in 1595
  2. The butler speaks - includes the different types of butlers, how a butler should behave, how to shake hands, how and when to offer a business card, and the difference between high tea and afternoon tea
  3. The etiquette of entertaining - includes how to host a dinner party, table settings, silver pieces and china, how to carve, where to put your napkin and cheese plates
  4. Table manners for the 21st century - includes the 12 golden rule for dining as per Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin in 1825, dress codes, how to use a knife and fork, and how to eat hard-to-eat foods
  5. The art of good housekeeping - includes how to make a bed, fold a shirt, polish silver, how to clean various rooms, how to make a bed, how to iron a shirt (don't put creases in the sleeves!) and which hangers to use

There are sections at the end with a glossary, food and wine pairings and a reading list.

I liked this book.  In the first chapter, I learned about the hierarchy of the various jobs years ago (sounds like hard work!).  There were lots of interesting tips in the other chapters.  It sounds like the author knows his stuff.

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