Home food Good Manners Matter: Judith Martin and Letitia Baldrige Have a Successor

My old friend Norah Lawlor writes in a new book: “Why do manner matter? … In an era where a message placed online can be transmitted world-wide and where modern cities are cultural melting pots comprised of people from many different nationalities, all with their own customs, the opportunity for making social errors is multiplied many fold…Good individual etiquette has a role at the larger level of society—if we were to all practice good manners, would not the world simply be a nicer place?”

Norah’s foreword is to a book called “Manners That Matter Most: The Easy Guide to Etiquette at Home and in the World” (Hatherleigh Press). It’s by June Eding, who asked Norah, a prominent New York publicist, to write an introduction. She was the perfect choice. Norah comes from an old world family in Canada, “properly raised,” as my grandmother would say. Norah and her lovely sisters are all successes in the Lower 48, but with a price. I’ve often seen them gap mouthed, slack jawed or wide eyed at some of the coarse things that go on here. We ignore them, being New Yorkers or Los Angelenos, because we’ve seen everything. But not everyone does.

Norah concludes: Good manners are in short supply today, not necessarily because people are less courteous, but because sources of guidance that are relevant to modern lifestyles and language are harder to come by.” June Eding picks up where my late friend Letitia Baldrige, Judith Martin (Miss Manners), and Dorothea Johnson leave off. Before we head into the full on holiday season, “Manners That Matter Most” seems like more urgent reading than “Mockingjay Part 2” or “Twilight: the Return of the Vampires.” Even the latter need to know where to put a napkin!

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