20 September 2009

Etiquette Wednesday

Marjorie Hillis wrote the quintessential etiquette book for the fearless woman of the 1930's, Living Alone and Liking It. As she says,
“There is not much use in thinking of yourself as Ina Claire and then acting like Zenobia Frome.”
I so agree! Maybe. I think today it would be:
“There is not much use in thinking of yourself as Ina Garten and then acting like Ruth Madoff.”
Well actually, Ina Claire was a larger-than-life vaudeville star and Zenobia Frome was a fictional, put-upon wife whereas Ina Garten is a larger-than-life television cook and Ruth Madoff is a real put-upon wife... anyway, I digress...

While some of the book might just be a bit outdated, there is still plenty to relish.

“The old-fashioned notion that solitary women are objects of charity was killed in the war.”

That would be WWI.

“Being Spartan becomes pointless when there is no one to watch the performance.”

So true. As with martyrdom, it must be a spectator sport to be effective.

“We can think of nothing more depressing than going to bed in a washed-out-four-year-old nightgown, nothing more bolstering to the moral than going to bed all fragrant with toilet-water and wearing a luscious pink satin nightgown, well-cut and trailing.”

I am sure there is SOMETHING more depressing that a pink nitie!

“If even the most respectable spinsters would regard their bedrooms as places where anything might happen, the resulting effect would be most beneficial.”

Anything CAN happen, like a home invasion.

"Be a Communist, a stamp collector or a Ladies aid worker, if you must, but for heaven’s sake be something!"

I so love this book! I live alone and love it, but just to insure my standing I am going to rush right out and become a Communist before settling into my pink and trailing nightgown.

Marjorie Hillis did a cookbook entitled Caviar and Corned Beef for the Live- Aloner. Check it out at Cookbook Of The Day.


  1. This is a treasure trove of good advice. I lived alone for almost 20 years before helping elderly parents became important. I relished every moment of & miss it at odd moments. Some of these are real gems-esp. love the one about being spartan and your own aside about martyrdom is even better. Great stuff. GT

  2. It is really hard to believe that this was written in the 1930's. Aside from the obvious "dated" materials it is totally relevant. And I am an only child, so living alone has been a constant. Thanks, for following the blog!


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