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Volume 19, Issue 1: Ex Libris

Protocol Matters

Reviewed by Nancy Wilson

I don't know how many times over the years I've been asked if I could recommend a good book on manners. Well, here it is. Sandra Boswell and Canon Press have put together an entirely readable work that centers on the family and how parents and teachers can enable children of all ages to understand and enjoy good manners. But this isn't just a how-to book, although it is full of suggestions and ideas on how to teach manners. It is also a compendium of just what manners we ought to be teaching.

Mrs. Boswell has covered all the territory: table manners, how to make introductions and enjoy good conversation, restaurant etiquette, good grooming and dressing for the occasion, being a good guest, and the right moves (opening doors, getting out of cars, etc.) are just some of the topics, and she manages to lay it all out for us in a well organized and refreshing style. She understands the differences between boys and girls and doesn't try to domesticate the young men. She explains the cultural significance of good manners and bases all her work on a vibrant Christian world and life view, not a Victorian stuffiness or prairie-muffin nostalgia for days long gone.
Because Mrs. Boswell has been involved in setting up protocol programs for Christian schools, she gives all the help you could possibly need to set one up yourself. But the book is useful on its own, even if you don't plan to organize such an event, and even if you don't have children of your own. Everyone needs good manners, and we can all use a good refresher every so often, no matter how well trained we've been.
If you are like me, I appreciate having resources at hand when I have questions. This is a book I'll keep on a nearby shelf for quick reference when I need it. Included are diagrams of table settings and sketches distinguishing the components of formal and informal wear for men and women. All in all, Protocol Matters is a graceful and gracious call to make our manners match our Christian calling.

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