Lilliputian Review: Women, Work and the Art of Savoir Faire


From the Publisher: When Mireille Guiliano became a senior executive and spokesperson for Veuve Clicquot, she took the Champagne to the top of the luxury market, using her distinctive French woman's philosophy and style. Now she uses those same talents and savoir faire to help readers pop their own corks and get the most out of life. Drawing on her experiences at the front lines and highest echelons of the business world, she gives women (and a few men, peut-être) the practical advice they need to make the most of work without skimping on all the other good things in life.
With lively lessons, stories, and helpful hints, Mireille teaches every reader how to identify her own passions and talents, improve her communication skills, balance work and life, cope with everyday stress, turn herself into a winning brand, and so much more. From acing a job interview or performance review to hosting a simple but elegant dinner party, Mireille tells it like it is as she shares her secrets for achieving happiness and success at any stage in business and life.
Stylish, witty, and wise, Mireille segues easily from the small details to the big picture, never losing sight of what is most important: feeling good, facing challenges, getting ahead, and maximizing pleasure at every opportunity.
My Take: What the intro failed to mention is that this business cum self-help book is by the bestselling author of French Women Don't Get Fat. I haven't read her previous books but from what I can gather her advice is fairly self-evident: Walk. Don't eat pastries for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Embrace that ol'...joie de vivre?
Mireille Guiliano doesn't stray far from the path in Women, Work and the Art of Savoir Faire either. Her insistence that a business book for women embrace all aspects of life sounds like a balanced approach until you hear what this consists of - don't wear too much make-up but invest in a great hair cut? Host a dinner at home for your boss that includes duck with chocolate sauce? Don't even think about sleeping to the top?! Really?
Guiliano further dates herself by harping on technology's encroachment on our time, calling it a "selfish indulgence." She seems also to have no appreciation for the diversity of modern females, insisting that a woman dress in a feminine manner and wield an iron fist in a velvet glove. This advice does not empower, it belittles.
Still, Guiliano has a surprisingly clear outlook in other cases. She mentions that while many women "want to have it all" - great career, husband and kids, a house in the country etc. - she believes it to be near impossible, a sentiment I share. There is simply not enough time to go around. A women who wants to dedicate herself to her children will have a so-so career. A woman at the top of her game professionally will have much less time for her partner. Something always has to give. Women have jumped from having limited options to being expected to juggle every option and what we infrequently realize is that both of these situations are debilitating.
Verdict: This book is written for an older generation but its advice is geared towards those just entering the work force. Guiliano displays a clear understanding of the pitfalls she suffered entering the workforce some 30 years ago, when women were just beginning to break through the glass ceiling, however her advice does not feel pertinent for the issues facing Gen Y (or even Gen X) today.

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