Domestic Manners of the Americans

Trollope, Frances. Domestic Manners of the Americans. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1949.

Frances “Fanny” Trollope disliked Americans for their lack of “domestic manners.” In other words she didn’t know how to embrace culturally differences. One man’s rude belch is another man’s generous compliment to the chef. But, Frances Trollope didn’t see it that way. The American accent grated on Trollope’s ears. She found the living conditions deplorable as well. Pigs running wild in the streets of Cincinnati bothered her but she conceded that if it weren’t for the pigs the street would be overrun with food rubbish! She longed for England’s refinement. One has to keep in mind the era as well. America was trying to be as backwards from British rule as possible.
Favorite line, “…before the end of August I fell low before the monster that is forever stalking that land of lakes and rivers, breathing fever and death around” (p 178). I like the sheer monstrosity of it all.

Reason read: Frances Trollope was born in the month of March. I also read Fanny: a novel by Edmund White at the same time. Was it worth it? Not sure what I was supposed to get out of that exercise, so I would have to say no.

Book trivia: Domestic Manners of the Americans inspired Edmund White to write Fanny: a Novel.

Author fact: Domestic Manners of the Americans was Frances Trollope’s first book.

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “”Two, or Three, Are Better Than One (p 226).


Fanny

White, Edmund. Fanny: a Fiction. New York: HarperCollins, 2003.

Here’s the premise: Frances Trollope is already famous for publishing Domestic Manners of the Americans, a no-so flattering account of American society. She now sets out to write the biography of friend and feminist, Fanny Wright. Edmund White produces Fanny’s biography in manuscript form and I have to say it would have been a clever twist to present this as a reworked manuscript. Trollope’s notes to self, musings, and edit ideas would have been more effective had they been published as handwritten notes in the margins, scribbles, and parts crossed out. Instead, Trollope’s musings are in line with the text and somewhat distracting. As it is, Trollope spends more time justifying her Domestic Manners and recounting her own family’s trials and tribulations than she does on Ms. Wright’s memoir. It’s cleverly written.

Line I liked, “I had been so absorbed in the brilliant company…the look of the elegant company, that I had completely forgotten the sad reality of me” (p 44).

Reason read: Frances Trollope was born in the month of March and this was listed as a “companion” read in More Book Lust.

Book trivia: I found it really cool that Edmund White dedicated Fanny to Joyce Carol Oates.

Author fact: Edmund White has his own website here.

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “Two, or Three, Are Better Than One” (p 226).

UPDATE: Another index error in More Book Lust! Fanny: a Fiction by Edmund White is also mentioned in the chapter “Just Too Good To Miss” (p 133) of More Book Lust.