21 responses

  1. Duchesse
    September 23, 2009

    Reading your review, I thought of my Chinese friends from "good families". The similarities are startling: they were taught to avoid the discussion of feelings or showing of strong sentiment, to respect their elders, to be conscious of family image and what others would think (but inside their circle, all sorts of behaviour was tolerated), and to participate in dynasty-consolidating marriages. One of the things I notice about high WASP culture is its insularity, its lack of awareness that other subcultures have very similar norms.

    My first husband was a member of Winston Churchill's family, which formed some of my impressions.

  2. City Girl
    September 23, 2009

    I read Amanda Hesser's Mr. Latte book a few years ago (oddly the book was more interesting to me than the columns) and I remember wondering about Tad/Mr. Latte – Amanda Hesser's book gave just enough information to know that he was from a WASP family, and also enough information there had been/was some enormous emotional pain in Tad's life, as is evidenced by some of Tad's interactions with her. But I did not know for sure until reading your review that pain+WASP family were definitely interconnected. Thank you for a great review :)

  3. mint juleps and magnolias
    September 23, 2009

    How interesting!

  4. Princess Freckles
    September 23, 2009

    Beautiful review! I had recently heard about this book. I think I'll hunt it down here at the library.

  5. Couture Carrie
    September 23, 2009

    Fab review, darling!


  6. La Belette Rouge
    September 23, 2009

    Congratulations on your first book review! Really well done. You have inspired me to add this book to my list.

  7. Buckeroomama
    September 23, 2009

    Velly intellesting, as PW and a few people over here have been known to say. …as is Duchesse's comment about the similarities of her Chinese friends from "good families." That bears more expounding, but I am of no inclination to dissect that at the moment.

  8. LPC
    September 23, 2009

    Thanks all. The book is just now orderable from Amazon, so I don't know if it will have shown up in libraries yet. Princess, you're the one to tell us. And interestingly, I did not really know I had a High WASP heritage until I began to work with my Chinese colleagues. Not to say I didn't know who my family was, just that I did not understand what about mine was different or similar from other cultures until I got to know the Chinese-American story from those who lived it.

  9. Maureen@IslandRoar
    September 23, 2009

    This is a great book review. I'm not surprised you have quite a talent for it.
    "We might be interested in WASP artifacts….but we listen and feel for the universal."
    Isn't that true for most of what we're drawn to? I think it's a big part of why I love your blog (aside from your marvelous writing, of course).
    Looking forward to your personal reaction tomorrow.

  10. indigo
    September 23, 2009

    i totally knew it was you. this book review was as insightful and thought provoking as your usual posts, and, reading this, i was struck more than once by your *generosity* as a writer, and not for the first time. you have this amazing ability to take the reader by the hand and guide them through your narrative without patronising in the least. you know i rate you highly, but just wanted to say this. anyway.

  11. Mardel
    September 23, 2009

    The book sounds interesting and I would like to read it.

    Oddly enough, although I know my family and its history, and knew that my heritage was of the WASP variety, I did not really think about or realize how heavy the influence was until I married and dealt with my husband's very rigid German Jewish family and again when I started reading your blog. It seems that WASP heritage has very long arms, even when supposedly rejected.

  12. Sher
    September 23, 2009

    My family history? Dirt poor. Can't relate. But an excellent book review :)

  13. QueenBeeSwain
    September 23, 2009

    can't wait to see what "you" have to say, loved this review- will have to pick this up, sounds an awful lot like my background!

    PS- saw a license plate with "LPC" on it yesterday and had a moment for you ;)



  14. miss cavendish
    September 23, 2009

    I half planned to read this book until I read Tad Friend's article in Vogue this month about chasing ex-girlfriends to find out what they had thought of him. It was, to my mind, derivative of the film "Broken Flowers" and self-indulgent, especially when he worked his annoyed wife into a cliche. When I calm down I do think I'll give the book itself a try, and hope that there are no chapters about ex-girlfriends in it. (Though there probably is at least one!) Am looking forward to reading "you" on the book tomorrow!

  15. SLynnRo
    September 23, 2009

    I saw this in Vogue and totally wanted to read it.

  16. Lipstick
    September 23, 2009

    I immensely enjoyed your review. I think I will have to read this book and just make little notes in the margins to figure out who all the characters are. I was sold reading about the dishes that "abhor the dishwasher." What a nice metaphor for an old way of life and lifestyle that in some ways abhors newer ways of thinking/doing business/networking, etc.

  17. Liz
    September 24, 2009

    Argh! He went chasing ex-girlfriends? That sounds more like someone facing the end of life, for some reason. Hmmmm, that makes me less inclined to pick this up. I recently read a review for another memoir ("Approaching Neverland"), which has to do with family tragedy and how it impacts the family and the people within it, and that sounds very interesting. And I have to offer a suggestion for Replacement Child by Judy Mandel, which also is a memoir on how tragedy shapes a family. It's riveting — the author's sister is killed when a plane crashes into the family home (another sister is burned), and the book's theme is self-discovery, recovery and hope. The plane crash is presented throughout the book, which I really like.

  18. the Preppy Princess
    September 24, 2009

    This goes in your Top Ten Miss WASP, it truly does. And now we'll have to read the book, if only because of Mr. Friend's description of WASP tableware. Amazing.

    May your Friday be better-than-fabulous,

  19. Anonymous
    October 2, 2009

    A splendidly written review. I went to boarding school with Mr. Friend's sister, whose name is — you guessed it — "Timmie". We had mutual friends (no way around using that word) and played on the squash team together. I am a mutt in terms of heritage, with strong WASP lines that got diluted. I have to say I'm grateful for my mixed genes, having met an inordinate number of northern WASPs at school who came from dysfunctional families. (I wasn't aware of the word "dysfunctional" when at boarding school, but it's certainly the right term.)I'm glad that Mr. Friend has found happiness. I hear that his sister has, too — hallelujah! Good riddance to the emotionally sterile WASP family. I deeply regret, however, the passing of a culture that recognized the line of demarcation between the public and private domains and that spurned the spotlight and ostentation. "Shabby gentility" is something worth preserving.

  20. LPC
    October 3, 2009

    I concur. I am glad to see the WASP culture of chilly relationships disappear. But the code of conduct – show up on time, honor your promises, never show off – that I would hope we can preserve. I'm very glad you liked the review.

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