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Charmed, I'm sure

by William Norwich, Vogue, November 2013

On a recent visit to her West Village brownstone. I tell Liv Tyler that I was as surprised as anybody to hear that she had written a manners book. It's a sentiment she's heard before. "People think of me as more rock'n'roll than Rockefeller," she says, laughing.

But it's not polite to assume you know somebody - or something - prior to a little investigation, so let me say straight off: Tyler's book, Modem Manners: Tools In Take You to the Top (Potter Style), is one of the best manners guides l've ever read. It isn't camp or twee; it's neither nostalgic nor hectoring. Its philosophy is the Golden Rule of kindness and courtesy, translated for an age that seems to consider the very notion of manners hopelessly old-fashioned. In short, this compendium of wisdom and direction provides everything needed to excel in one's business and social life.

Tyler wrote the book with her maternal grandmother, Dorothea Johnson, who as the founder of the prestigious Protocol School of Washington and the author of the best-selling Little book of Etiquette has been saving diplomats from faux pas since the 1970's. Many of Tyler's formative years were spent with her grandmother, who's visiting today from her home in Maine.

Far from viewing the world of etiquette as merely... well, mannered. Johnson sums up her claer-eyed and eminently practical take on the matter in impressively economical fashion.

"I think that good manners will get you where you want to go," she says, smiling politely, "faster than a speeding BMW."

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