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on 28 August 2009
Having read all of the Gothic Charm School online posts, I was pleased to discover that the book contained much more than just a collection of these. I found the articles about goth music vs fashion particularly interesting. Excellent read, and very funny and informative and well written, for both goths and non goths. I would particularly recommend this book to the fledgeling goth as it contains a great deal of information on starter goth mistakes to avoid!
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on 4 April 2011
While this book may not offer much that is new to a seasoned goth in terms of information as really, those of us old enough to be out in the wider world working and being terribly grown up now should know better than to do things like "The great internet flounce-off" or going to the gothic club dressed like the Crow (well, unless you have that Brandon Lee kind of figure and can do the makeup accurately and convincingly and carefully) or try and scare small children and strangers for giggles, but it does offer a cheering good read, and it gives good advice to those outside the sub-culture, beyond simply clearing up the common misconceptions - it gives advice on what are good and bad reasons to visit a goth club, and how to behave once you're there as a tourist, it gives advice to parents on how to handle their children around goths (don't hide them away and tell them we're evil people and conversely, don't expect us to be entertainment for them.) and what to do if their children become goths (don't panic) and those things are valuable and rarely said pieces of advice. It is also written in the same "Headmistress" style as her wonderful website and videos, which may be off putting to some, but I find it wonderfully charming. Her husbands illustrations are worth a few giggles each, my favourite being the cyber/industrial looking chap looking at his phone with the shadow he casts being that of demon with a knife -a distortion of the shadows of the tubing on his goggles and his phone, except for the glowing eyes in the section "How to reassure people you aren't a Satanist, drug fiend or pyscho-killer" and the illustration of the Victoriana goth and the Deathrocker at the start of Chapter 7 - those polarities really do confirm that the joke about goths non-conforming by all wearing the same black uniform doesn't really stand much except for about Certain groups of teenage "Mall goths" for whom it IS a phase. Altogether a charming, witty and enjoyable book that you'll find yourself reading with a glass of red wine or absinthe late at night, black cat perched on your looming chair, while listening to Sisters of Mercy and cackling at comments such as "Does that mean gothy gentleman should refrain from raising a lady's hand to their lips? No, but it should be just a quick brush of the lips, not a lingering or, erm, damp experience. Yes, Snarklings, this means no licking a lady's hand. That sends a somewhat different message." :P
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on 23 August 2009
No matter who you are, goth, a goth's mum, boyfriend to a goth or someone who works with a goth this is the book for you. Not only does it explain about goth culture, it explains about how to behave as a goth (not running up to toddlers cackling) and how not to treat a goth (no rubbing up the velvet). as well as being informative it's also very very funny! there are tips for what to wear in the summer (not PVC) and how to behave at weddings, and even how to dress for an interview with out scaring the potential employer :D

My favourite part of the book delt with goths becoming parents and how to treat your child if they wander over to the dark side (i.e don't panic and call over the local priest). I managed to read this in two days, as I couldn't put it down, I only hope this is the first of many books :)
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on 14 January 2015
I think this book does exactly what it says. It is a useful handbook for any goth or person who loves them and has a kind of charm to it that will always make you go back to it for more. I find that it is especially good for goths who do not know any others like them or don't have any around. If you are in that situation and read this book it will make you feel better due to the fact that it proves that you're not alone. When not being able to be around others like you, it helps to buy books about yourself and those others.

Playful and orderly, this book will present you with the decency that any goth should have!
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on 9 March 2012
I haven't come across any similar books dealing with the gothic subculture, and Jillian Venters has done an excellent job. The book lays down the basics for understanding Goth, as well as in-depth tips and explanations. There are unfortunately a great deal of negative misconceptions about goths, which are all addressed here in a way you could easily ask your conservative grandparents to read. It gives advice on general manners and etiquette, along with help for both the youngest and oldest of gothic people.
Despite the rather specific subject matter, it is an interesting book for just about anyone.
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on 22 March 2012
This is a must for Goth and the Goth curious alike. Jillian Venters (aka The lady of the Manners) writes with humour whilst imparting much good, and relevant, advice about Goth and the Goth lifestyle.
I recommend this book not only as a light hearted source of the 'do's and don'ts' for the Goth and Goth curious, but also as an entertaining and often humourous read. There is also plenty of relevant, and good, advice and information in regard to Goth and the Goth subculture.
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on 8 December 2013
Having had a goth 'phase' when I was fourteen, I recently started getting back into it, but was at a loss as to where to start. Gothic Charm School is a useful introduction to Goth for those who are interested in rejoining the subculture, or simply curious about its beginnings and peculiarities. A lot of it will be old news to Goths who have been invested in the scene for a while, but for babybats, I think it's perfect.
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on 29 December 2009
If pushed to describe Jillian Venters's book in a single adjective, it would, appropriately enough, be 'charming', but it did make me thank God for the invention of personal pronouns. Replacing Mrs Venters's soubriquet 'The Lady of the Manners' with the good old Anglo-Saxon 'I' would cut a good few pages off the book; and the designation of those of us resident in the Gothic demi-monde as 'Snarklings' wades so far into the twee that I couldn't help recalling Dorothy Parker's great review of "The House at Pooh Corner", the one where 'Tonstant Weader fwows up'. Look it up, Snark - argh, she's got me at it now!

Well. The archness of "Gothic Charm School" obviously follows those etiquette columns in the ladies' magazines of yesteryear which were the model for the original website, and is all one with Mrs Venters's campaign to nudge Goth into a movement for the revival of Good Manners in society. This is a Good Thing, and clearly makes much sense in the US where departure from the sunny-delight norm can sometimes be seen as undermining the whole of society, even if things don't seem quite so polarised this side of the Atlantic. Goth is not a threat, says Mrs Venters, and tries to encourage her readers to be non-threatening. The book is obviously aimed at young folk venturing into the Goth world (or who fondly imagine they know all about it), and broadly speaking the writing falls into two categories: advice on personal interaction both within Gotherie and with those outside it, and practical tips on Gothic living ('The Basics of Assembling a Gothy Wardrobe', for instance). It's the sort of thing which everyone thinks is obvious, but which actually isn't until you learn from bitter experience or have someone tell you; advice from your aunt for those perhaps ill-inclined to listen to their real aunts, or whose real aunts are ill-prepared to give it. Even I, years ago, could have done with somebody pointing out to me the niceties of cufflinks and collar studs, and the subtle distinctions of trilby, fedora and homburg (not that Mrs V goes into such Chappish territory).

While nothing substantial in literary terms, "Gothic Charm School" is lighthearted and fun, and will do some people good. I'm reminded of the story of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band being arraigned at the US border; on being challenged by the border cop to say what, if they didn't have any guns or knives, they were going to defend themselves with, Vivian Stanshall called out from the back of the van 'With good manners, my man'. Take that to heart, Snark - oh, drat.
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on 29 May 2013
I really liked the fun way this book is written. It is very entertaining for a guide book and I finished it almost in one day. I do recommend it to all people who are interested in goths and gothic culture.
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on 30 September 2009
Whether you are already a Goth or know someone who is, or you have seen them gather together and wonder what it is all about, this is the book to read.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, it was hard to put down. It is very informative on all aspects of Goths and is also very amusing, you could just imagine the author in the room with you.
The advice given could apply to any subculture, and to those who are quick to 'put down' anyone who chooses to follow their own dress code, rather than that of the masses. Many people fear those who look different and attack them verbally or physically, just because someone looks different does not mean that we are not all the same underneath.
This book sets out to show that no matter what you choose to be, a revival of good manners is an essential part of who you are. It also explores the different types of Goths and their clothing.
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