Sunday, May 05, 2013

The Butler Speaks

The Butler Speaks: a Guide to Stylish Entertaining, Etiquette and the Art of Good Housekeeping / Charles MacPherson
Toronto: Random House Canada, c2013.
247 p.

I received this book from Random House and have really enjoyed looking through it over the last week. It's actually quite fascinating -- although I do freely admit I skimmed over the section on how to properly clean every single thing in your house.

This is not a stuffy volume of arcane protocol, rather, it is a modern take on the service industry. I really liked what MacPherson said in the opening pages:

Etiquette is not a set of classist rules for the rich, famous or snobby -- rather, it's a way of understanding other people and having consideration for their needs.

It covers all sorts of things, from how to set a table and differentiate between cutlery, to how to clean, iron or polish your household. If you ever wanted to know how to set a tea tray correctly, that's here too. What wine to serve with which meal? Is this chair Queen Anne or Louis Quinze? Fold a napkin? Make a bed? Create a champagne tower? Address people correctly by order of protocol? Yes, you'll find out how. There is also a wonderful discussion of the temperament and behaviours of an efficient and effective butler (or any other kind of service position).

While I am not considering a career as a house manager this was still great reading. Recommended reading which he includes at the end, a list of 10 essential household management books (actually 11, but one is only in French), contains Cheryl Mendelson's Home Comforts, a book I bought some years ago but have as yet never even opened. Oops. However, if this field does in fact interest you as a career choice, try reading this book to get a feel for what's involved, and check out his recommended titles. And then check out his website, too -- Charles MacPherson Associates offers an accredited training course in the field, and it appears to be quite elaborate with assistance in placement afterward as well. It is based in Toronto, and MacPherson also makes regular appearances on the Marilyn Denis show.

Definitely a useful book for the non-professional (like myself) who needs a reference for some of these things now and again! A great gift, too, for those people you know you won't offend by giving it to them ;)

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