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Modern Manners + Etiquette: Book Club Etiquette

Thursday, November 15, 2012


She loves her book club, but she confesses that she's not reading the books any more. Should she continue to attend? Didi has the answer.

People are microblogging about book group etiquette and on-trend plus-size fashion at Didi Lorillard's Newport Manners this week. They're also asking how to get help to clean up debris from a neighbor's tree and whether to invite their deceased son's family for the holidays, many feel they're in troubled waters in the aftermath of storms.

Dear Didi,
Do I invite my widowed daughter-in-law's new boyfriend to family holiday functions? My son died last December and my daughter-in-law has a serious boyfriend. I have two grandchildren from her marriage to my son. As a family they come to my home for family functions. She has not asked for her boyfriend to attend, but should I include him? Thank you for your advice.  Name withheld

Dear Anonymous,
In my opinion, it is too soon. I think it would be difficult for you, your grandchildren, and your daughter-in-law. The holidays will be emotional enough for you as it is, so why not have your grandchildren and their mother all to yourself. Next year invite the serious boyfriend. Tell him that if he wants to invite his parents to come as well, you would like to meet them.

On the other hand, since your grandchildren have been coming to your house as a family with their mother and her boyfriend and if you feel good about that, then by all means invite them all. Why not discuss it with your daughter-in-law? Ask her what would be best for her?  Alternatively, invite them, say, for Christmas day, but not Christmas eve. If you've been a major part of their Christmas in the past, then carry on as usual. I understand that it's a hard decision because you would rather be with your grandchildren than anybody else, but not necessarily with the boyfriend. Think about your emotions first and then make a compromise.  ~Didi

Dear Didi,
Is it appropriate to continue coming to a monthly "Book Club" group (of interesting, smart and funny women who really know how to cook!) when you rarely get the chance to read the book?!  It seems a bit disingenuous.
L.D., Newport

Dear L.D.,
A book group is an expansive friendship in your life. Over the course of any friendship there are times when you're closer and times when you're just not into it. Everyone has traits to add to the group.Think of it as a soup with many ingredients that you savor once a month. You all have a marvelous something to add to the soup. Some people just need to show up to contribute to the discussion—whether they've read the book or not. Others may talk on and on, without adding much of interest. But they need to be heard—and they may be amusing.  As long as your participation isn't agenda ridden and you continue participating because of friendship, not to worry.

Some people may have more time to read than others. Your turn to chime in may still come. In one book group that has been meeting for over twenty-five years, three in the group are writing a book about their book group experience. You may find yourself as a surprising chapter one day. In other words, book groups aren't just about the book of the month. If you suspect your lack of participation is a drawback for the other members, then suggest they invite someone new to join and you will show up when you can.  ~Didi

Dear Didi,
After two major storms our yard is filled with debris from our neighbor's tree. The houses in our neighborhood are close together. We don't even have a tree, but our neighbor's tree deposits leaves and fallen branches into our driveway and small backyard. Can you let me know what we can do about it? It's a big tree and we like trees, but we're just getting too old to be picking up after it. S.C., Providence

Dear S.C.,
Aside from moving, there isn't much you can do other than talk gently to your neighbor. Try joking about it. Humor often works. By saying something such as, "We love your beautiful tree, but it's getting too old to have to clean up after it." Let him pick up his cue. If he doesn't offer, then you can certainly ask him in the aftermath of a storm to, please, help pick up the debris. If the neighbor pitches in to help, be sure to show your appreciation for his effort. It will make it easier to ask for help next time.  ~Didi

Dear Didi,
What do I wear to a 2pm wedding in Ventura, CA, in December? I am 36, a natural blonde, blue eyes, 5'8" and 180 pounds, very curvy small waist and large breasts and hips. Not fat, but big in the sense I am not petite. I am an executive assistant at an engineering firm, drive a Chevy Impala, live on a pretty humble budget but know how to save to splurge on fine things. I have excellent hygiene and grooming, and I know how to do hair and makeup to fit the occasion. Thank you so much!!!  Karen, Ventura, CA

Dear Karen,
Look online for clothing at Eileen Fisher, ASOS Curves, and Forever 21+ or seek out their clothes in stores. Also, there are lots of fun, on-trend blogs with links to plus-size clothing sources to browse for outfit ideas:

Stiletto Siren
Fashion, Love and Martinis
Curvy Girl's Guide to Style
Stylish Curves from Bayside
Fat Girls Like Nice Clothes
Arched Eyebrow
Garner Style
Nicolette Mason

You might want to start with Nicolette Mason, who writes the size-plus column for Marie Claire magazine. For a wedding outfit, my best advice is to experiment with classic prints such as a zebra, leopard, dot or plaid. Wear a bra size that doesn't create bulges around your bra. To give you a smooth line wear shapewear all the time. Don't get hung up on size because sizes can vary from brand to brand. Shop online using your measurements. If you find something you like but it's only available in a size too large, have a good tailor fit the dress to flatter your curves. Don't be afraid of stripes, ruffles or blocks of color because they can balance your proportions. Have fun at the wedding.  ~Didi

Didi Lorillard researches shifting etiquette at NewportManners.com by answering questions on relationship dilemmas, wedding etiquette, business etiquette, entertaining, dress codes and manners. Or find Didi on Facebook,TwitterLinkedIn, or Pinterest after reading her earlier GoLocal columns, some of which are listed below.


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