There are some circles where Liv Tyler's grandmother is far more famous than that of her father. Dorothea Johnson, Liv Tyler's maternal grandmother, is the founder of The Protocol School of Washington where she taught etiquette to diplomats and businessmen. Not very rock'n'roll, perhaps, but just as essential to Liv's career and life skills in general. Which is exactly the point of this family collaboration. Good manners are timeless, of course, and Ms. Johnson tries to help a new generation of modern young people just starting their post-college adult life navigate their way up in a world that requires more than texting skills.
According to a 2012 interview for Harper's Bazaar, Liv was supposed to only write the introduction to Modern Manners, but the final 2013 book includes a broader contribution and has the actress' name on the cover as a co-author. While her grandmother wrote the actual body of text it is now peppered with examples, anecdotes, and extra Hollywood insight written by Liv (her bits are marked by a cute profile silhouette) that help enliven the text even further.
The book is divided to six parts: Meetings & Greetings, On The Job, Electronic Communications, Out And About, Dining Skills, and The Savvy Host. These are relevant and important topics for everyone, and the point of view is timeless. As Liv Tyler expresses in the forward:
"I noticed that the way my grandmother treated people had a sort of chain reaction, and in turn, people treated her with the utmost kindness and respect. It was as if her behavior was bringing out the best in them."The writing is succinct and modern. The advice dispensed here is stuff you can and should follow. This is not one of those charming 1950s etiquette books that have a lot of entertainment value today, but not necessarily a point of view suitable for a young career-oriented woman. You may have guessed by now that the book's target demographic is rather young. The topics it covers are among the most basic in modern society and workplace, so if you're after the finer points of dealing with ambiguous social situations this is not your book. Modern Manners would make a great graduation gift, though, and the celebrity aspect might help it go down even more easily.
Modern Manners by Dorothea Johnson and Liv Tyler ($7.99 for the Kindle edition) is available from Amazon.
Photo: Liv Tyler and Dorothea Johnson at the launch party for the book via W Magazine.