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on 16 November 2013
Really entertaining and informative, and written with the wit and intelligence that you hope for when you read anything by Sandi Toksvig.

One reviewer here critisises the tone of the book, but I found it an enjoyable instruction on manners through the ages with, if anything, tongue in cheek references to the authors (often contrary) experiences.

Highly recommended.
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on 26 June 2014
I have always admired Sandi Toksvig and this book is an excellent reminder of yesteryear when far more people had basic manners, than they seem to have nowadays. In certain parts there is a little written history of how certain manners arose. Both very informative and as usual with Sandi, very funny as well.
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on 12 October 2013
This is one of those books which you want to read quickly because it is so entertaining but want it to last ages. This will shorten those long winter nights.
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on 12 June 2014
I am a great fan of Sandi Toksvig and have read most of her books with relish. However, this one left me disappointed. Couldn't make my mind up about whether it was supposed to be humorous or a serious book about manners. Certainly not what I had expected but I did finish it! Not a bad book and maybe I misread the book description.
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on 14 June 2015
Be warned that this is not really a humorous book, though it has some likeable little anecdotes along the way. In fact to be absolutely honest, I doubt whether it would have been published at all without the Sandy Toksvig name: it is perfectly all right, as a guide to basic etiquette, but surprisingly ordinary. Almost all the advice given is perfectly ordinary and basic stuff: don't eat with your mouth full, don't get drunk at the work party, take your turn at washing the dishes, that kind of thing. Miss Manners Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behaviour (also on Amazon) is a much wittier version in my opinion. And even at a formal dinner, who on earth eats a banana with cutlery? This is madness. If someone gives you a banana at a dinner table, for heavens sake pick it up and eat it like a normal human being.
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on 24 August 2015
I bought this (and its audiobook version) because I loved Sandi Toksvig and it came up on my recommended list from Amazon.

I thought this would be a satirical look at manners in various cultures but is fact the reverse, rather than making fun of manners, it is Sandi trying to educate an 8 year old child on what is considerate at various occasions in life but with funny anecdotes to help explain it in a less formal way.

There were times when instead of hearing Sandi Toksvig, I could see and hear Patricia Routledge (when she plays Hyacinth Bucket ~ pronounced Bouquet, from Keeping Up Appearances) so it got a little confusing on whom I was meant to concentrating on, Sandi in my ears or Hyacinth in my mind.

It is well thought out and as an added twist to the usual reference theme, it written more as a series of letters rather than an instructional piece with a "Dear Mary" at the start and a "Yours, Sandi" at the end.
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on 10 July 2014
I like Toksvig's style and usually well researched writing and this was no exception. Written notionally as a letter to a Goddaughter, this should be in every teenager's Christmas stocking! Easy to dip in and out of, some parts perhaps obvious, but a pleasant and sometimes humorous reflection on the need for manners.
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on 8 February 2016
Sandi never disappoints. An excellent book for the unwary foreigner as well as the occasional native. I bought this for a friend who comes from Brazil to guide her through all those unforeseen situations where one can accidentally get things wrong. When one is born in a country one just accepts the way things are, but when coming from another country life is full of pitfalls. "Which fork do I use?" or "do I serve the cheese before or after the pudding" were questions she often asked me. Also, when bringing up her son, what is considered good or bad manners? Having been brought up by immigrant parents I too had had to face these dilemmas and only wish this book had been in print then. As is to be expected it is written with humour and is very easily readable, without sounding too superior as some books on the subject might.
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on 11 January 2014
This book is essentially a collection of what the author thinks constitute good manners - and she clearly knows her stuff. It is well written and seems pretty comprehensive (I'm half way through it), and contains a lot of good tips.

However, I am disappointed. From the adverts I saw - and my previous experience of the author - I was expecting this to be a witty, quirky take on 21st Century dilemmas and more a book of humour than one of straightforward advice and common sense.

So if you want to know why it is considered rude to have your elbows on the table at dinner, or why to keep your hands in your pockets in Europe then this is a great choice. If you're looking for a giggle then it isn't.
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on 20 April 2016
It takes some doing to strike a newish note when writing about this well worn subject, and much as I love Ms Toksvig's work in all media, she doesn't always bring it off here. The strongest part of the book is the anecdotage used to make some rather obvious points - I loved the story of the King of Denmark, for instance. The point that comes across most strongly is that courtesy is not a question of good or bad manners but of the same manners for everyone - but this is a point made far more economically a hundred years ago by George Bernard Shaw. The overall effect is of a potboiler written to fulfil a contract rather than something Ms Toksvig felt she had to say.
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