Just step out your door today, and you will notice that poise is a rarity in our wired, fast-paced, and unmannerly world. As uncivil behaviors like flip-flops at Broadway shows and digital oversharing proliferate, this timely book reminds us of the quiet power of behaving with dignity, kindness, and grace.
Jennifer L. Scott's Parisian mentor, Madame Chic, embodied poise and not just with the good posture, stylish attire, and natural manners that made her extraordinarily elegant. She also demonstrated steady assuredness and graceful calm in everything she did, from interacting with her family and receiving guests at home to presenting herself in public. Jennifer passes on the lessons she learned as well as some of her own hard-won wisdom, addressing topics such as proper attire at social events, good grooming, communication skills, hospitality and being a good guest, our interactions with neighbors and strangers, role models, self-discipline, and self-image. This inspiring book, full of practical tips and ideas, is certain to start a new conversation about the timeless art of poise.
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The intellectual snob in me does not want a silly self-help book that reminds us of basics like making eye contact. However, I listened to this in one go yesterday, I believe the day it was published. Jennifer Scott is a kindred spirit in that I also had a life-changing experience spending two semesters living with a lovely French family in Lyon when I was 21. (She is also a kindred spirit in that I too have taken up piano again and am working on learning classics by Bach, Beethoven, Schubert.)
Most of the advice I didn't really need but enjoyed hearing again. By the way, for me the audio was probably more enjoyable than reading the book because I usually read real literature (not posing!) and the book was written in very simple conversational style that I'd rather listen to than read.
One piece that was indeed necessary to hear again was the reminder of why not to gossip: because would you like other people talking about you that way? Do unto others...
I am grateful that Jennifer has made it her life's work to encourage women to be feminine and civilized (men too for the latter). Her kind of influence is needed in our culture. It is certainly true that life is more formal in France and in Europe in general. They take more pleasure in small things and in many ways live more fulfilled because they know how to slow down and relax, they don't watch a ton of TV or glue themselves to their phones, they don't spend their days racing from one activity to the next with their overbooked children...
A lot of the cultural differences are simply due to the much higher density of population in Europe. Europeans are more considerate of others in many ways, speaking more quietly for example, because life is just more crowded, so you have to think of others. Other differences are due to the fact that Americans have more disposable income. Yes, it's true, even if you think you don't have enough! We are the ones with consumer culture who are always buying more stuff, the ones who can actually afford several different fancy activities for each child and the uniforms and paraphanalie to go with each. (Although just because we can afford it doesn't mean it's a good idea.)
As much as their slower approach to life is to be emulated, I must state that Europeans in general are not as achieving in special ways as Americans are. I am not saying this is a good or a bad thing, it's just a fact. For example, I doubt anyone in Jennifer's Famille Chic could play Mozart like she can, never mind publishing books. They spend their time with the beautiful mundane of lovely dinners every night instead. America is the idea and achievement engine of the world, and this is related to our casual fast-paced culture that is so lamentable in many ways, but sometimes you must take some of the bad with the good, or at least realize that one culture doesn't have all the answers. I for one though, have chosen to live in more of the French way, seeking the beautiful mundane rather than special achievement and a faster pace. It really does elevate life to dress nicely (skirts and dresses are wonderful, like Mimi Thorisson), eat meals at a table calmly without distraction and treat others courteously. Thank you Jennifer for making the effort and writing another book.
The speaker's voice sounds very robotic
- Bobbie Monroe