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The Fabulous Girl’s Guide to Decorum

by Kim Izzo and Ceri Marsh

Decorum is something you don’t hear much about anymore – it’s the kind of word that’s associated with white gloves and stodgy rules of etiquette. However, as Ceri Marsh and Kim Izzo reveal, modern decorum is still a matter of exercising good manners and good judgment. The Fabulous Girl’s Guide to Decorum is basically a primer on how not to be a cell-phone-answering, cigarette-bumming, awkward-question-asking, boring boor. And so while there are still the obligatory sections on salad fork placement and office party behaviour, their book also contains information on how to handle sex with your ex, who’s in charge of “puppimony” if you buy a dog together and then split up, and the proper way to treat your intern at work.
The tone and writing is breezy, authoritative, and hip, much like other books with “Girl’s Guide” in the title. Each etiquette chapter is linked to a corresponding chapter about three fictional aspiring Fabulous Girls, FG for short. (One must try not to mentally pronounce it “Fug” as that ruins the effect.) Elenor, Missy, and the nameless narrator are best friends living the twenty-something single life in Toronto and trying to figure out the rules of the road.
Therein lies the book’s biggest problem: it hits its target market just about perfectly, but that target market is bright young women living in Toronto, Vancouver, or Montreal who work in media, publishing, or PR, and wear Misura or at least a good knockoff. After all 600 of them have bought the book, then what? Perhaps it’s best to treat Decorum as a kind of etiquette fantasy camp – you probably won’t need the advice on “Dating a Famous Person” or “How to Behave at a Book Launch, Film Premiere or Art Opening,” but it’s nice to think you might.