Review

The Art and Power of Being a Lady

by Noelle Cleary

What is a lady? When I think of one, I envision white lace handkerchiefs, proper polished black pumps, a "done" hairdo and perfume. Now how many women today do you know who fit that picture?

When THE ART AND POWER OF BEING A LADY landed on my desk I was curious. What qualifies a woman to be a lady, and why is being a lady powerful? And yes, I wanted to see if I made the cut though I bite my nails, frequently have scuffed shoes and loathe perfume.

What I found was a terrific succinctly written book that marries the opinions of notable personalities and guidelines from the authors, with commentary from women cross-country. To research the book, the authors conducted an online survey of women about their perceptions of a lady. They were wise enough to balance these opinions with a breezy, non-didactic writing style thus ensuring that THE ART AND POWER OF BEING A LADY does not read like a research paper or a strict guidebook.

Instead snippets of stories and terrific quotes from notables (including Lesley Stahl, Candice Bergen and Paula Zahn) --- and just plain quotables from other ladies ---punctuate text that talks about how a lady manages everything from throwing a party to talking on her cellphone. The commentary ensures that when you think of a lady you will go well beyond the usual list of Audrey, Katherine and Jackie.

The most salient trait of being a lady is that she is considerate of others first and foremost. For fun, be sure to check out the "100 Who Are Ladies" list that appears at the front of the book. There are some great surprises there!

One more thing. For the record, after reading this, I think I am a lady!

Reviewed by Carol Fitzgerald on January 20, 2011

The Art and Power of Being a Lady
by Noelle Cleary

  • Publication Date: August 27, 2002
  • Genres: Nonfiction
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press
  • ISBN-10: 0802139418
  • ISBN-13: 9780802139412