Title: The Butler Speaks: A Guide to Stylish Entertaining, Etiquette, and the Art of Good Housekeeping.
Author: Charles Macpherson
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I would like to introduce to you a book I recently read: The Butler Speaks, by Mr. Charles MacPherson. It was a random find at the library but I really enjoyed it. If you haven't heard of Mr. MacPherson, (I hadn't), he has been a renowned butler of several dignitaries and celebrities for many years, and has now founded his very own butler school here in the U.S. I was pretty excited to read his secrets for keeping house (heaven knows I need 'em!). There is something comforting and classy about how he writes (but NOT hoity-toity!), and I love reading any kind of book that makes me feel like someone is confiding their greatest secrets of the trade.
I think my only disappointment was that some of the content was off for me. For example, there is an entire section on what foods to pair with wine, and I just didn't really care. He also discusses several items that were irrelevant to me, such as how to polish silver and how to care for crystal and fine china. (Hmmm...how about the mainstays ceramic dishware we ordered off of amazon?) Several of the items I read, such as how to cut different meats properly (complete with diagrams!), would be useful for special occasions, but I just don't cut meat regularly enough (err...ever, really) to make those parts feel particularly relevant. Also, I was really hoping he would talk more about laundry, and other than a couple of comments about starching and ironing, he didn't go into any great detail. Humph.
That being said, the things I felt were relevant, I absolutely loved. And there was definitely enough relevancy for me to scour the entire book, cover to cover. My favorite thing about this book is the feeling that I now have insider information about how to present food to guests, how to make introductions, how to make the perfect bed (3 key components and a handy step-by-step guide!), how to properly clean a room, and how to manage overall cleanliness of the home throughout the year. I have already referenced the step-by-step guide on how to clean a bathroom (he also provides guides on cleaning the bedroom and other rooms, if I am not mistaken). I also feel like I will definitely reference his year-long calendar in which he breaks down, by month, which "spring cleaning" items you should be doing in order to keep your house properly cleaned.
Oh, and tips on things I never even thought about! Like, did you know there is a right way to hand someone a business card? Do you know how to prepare and serve a cheese tray? How about folding shirts and hanging pants? Did you know there are right ways to do those things, too?
MacPherson talks at length about some of the history of the service industry, which I found interesting. And if there was a take-home message for me, it was that good manners and entertaining are all about making others feel comfortable and anticipating their needs. The great thing about this book is that it provides you with practical tips to do just that, and that is confidence-building for me. The old me would have known I wanted people to feel comfortable and welcome in my home, but may not have considered where guests are going to hang their coats when they arrive. But thanks to Mr. MacPherson, I am a changed woman, I tell you. Come over to my house sometime, you'll see.