Usually, I try to start my reviews with a quote that I think encapsulates what either what the book is about, or the mood, or something else that strikes me about the book.
I was having a hard time to find a quote from Peas & Queues that would encapsulate any of this.
When I went out for breakfast with a friend on Sunday, he - who likes Sandi Toksvig when she's on tv - asked me what the book was about and for the first time in ages I was actually stunned and unable to form a coherent thought that would describe my impressions of the book. Granted, I had only had one sip of my first cup of coffee - but usually I find it easy enough to talk about books.
So, having had the benefit of a few days' reflection, I think my main problem with the Peas & Queues is that I have no idea what the book is about:
In the preface it is explained that the book is aimed at the author's niece as a guide to modern manners and general advice. Then book starts off giving a background to manners and social conventions that became what is now known under the label of "manners". That part of the book is quite interesting - and the examples chosen from history are quite funny.
The subsequent chapters of the book are then devoted to different real life situations - living with other people, eating out, being invited, etc. And this is where the book loses the plot a little; where the descriptions become quite common sense, quite "uninteresting", for want of a better word. Also, there are fewer examples of famous incidents. All in all, the further into the book I advanced, the more it read like writing the book had become a task that had to be completed, but really, the author lost interest in it, too.
Or, maybe it is just me; maybe I just don't give a monkey's about manners.