An E-Reader’s Review of “Women, Work and the Art of Savoir Faire” by Mireille Guiliano

Mireille Guiliano is the celebrated author of the “French Women” books, neither of which have I read. However, I am forever trying to find a way to be a suave, sophisticated, working mother. You know, the one that has it all together. Think: the perfect fusion of Patty Hewes from the show “Damages” and Mrs. Brady from “The Brady Bunch”. This book seemed to be the blueprint of such a creature.

Savoir Faire is French for “know-how”. Guiliano is a native of France who transfers to work in New York City. The author is very clear that she is not going to teach the reader how to get the corner office or how to secure that promotion. But she seems to be trying to be an overall mentor to the reader. Indeed, it seems she is trying to be the mentor she never had early on in her own career.

So what “know-how” is she providing the reader? Really, what general know-how does she not provide in this book? This is a book that touches on all the genres. Guiliano covers business etiquette, fashion sense, branding, and even entertaining (I have never read a business book that includes recipes!).

Throughout all of the information, or savoir-faire, shared with the reader, there is one common theme: the only thing constant in life is change. She refers to life as a series of episodes and stages. She acknowledges that passions change. She admits that even her own life/business plan changed when she met her husband. Part of that common thread is the notion that the change in life can be controlled to be in line with our own current goals. She refers to this as acting in “enlightened self interest”.

Guiliano brings a unique touch to this business book, with cross-cultural references between France and America. The book is peppered with her own stories of professional growth and personal experiences. She is not an academic; she is life-learned.

The style of the book, while witty, charming and illustrative, is not a light read. This is not a book where the reader can quickly locate and re-read a passage for a quick refresher. Each of the chapters have clever, creative titles, but they are not necessarily transparent. I would consider the book to be a great vacation read rather than a business reference book.

E-Reader’s Opinion: Guiliano is a well-travelled, cross-cultural, savvy business woman with a lot of savoir-faire to share. This is a wonderful read for anyone who enjoys a cute-flirty take on the business world. But for a serious go-getter, this book is lacking practical and concrete teachings on how to break through that glass ceiling. I was initially hoping for Patty Hewes meets Mrs. Brady, but instead this book delivers more Ally McBeal meets Martha Stewart.

Your e-reader reviewer is Hetal Kushwaha, Liaison – International Practice, Marks & Clerk Canada. She would like to emphasize that this is just her opinion and it is not intended to represent the views of Marks & Clerk Canada.

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