211 Things a Clever Girl Can Do

After his success with 211 Things a Bright Boy Can Do, Tom Cutler has reinvented himself as his flippant "sister"  Bunty in this ho-hum book of non-useful "tips."

After his success with 211 Things a Bright Boy Can Do, Tom Cutler has reinvented himself as his flippant "sister"  Bunty, who dishes out 1950s-style advice in 211 Things a Clever Girl Can Do. My first reaction to the book was ho-hum—I was turned off by the trying-too-hard humor and space-filling anecdotes—but after finding out that this writer is actually a man, I now feel kind of duped.

While there is some practical advice (how to make a proper cup of tea) and some charming moments (18 uses for an old fishnet stocking), the book is more often disappointingly frivolous. The ìCoca-Cola Cancan,î which sounds like a flashy dance, is just a balancing trick with a can of pop, and "Make a Macrame Bikini" contains only enough information to make a bracelet, the author writing petulantly, "You thought I’d be giving you instructions?"

The author’s attempt to sound retro is abrasively old-fashioned. He suggests that you "undo your top button and go and ask the nice man next door" when you can’t get the lid off the pickles and gives instructions on turning down marriage proposals, which include asking your father to refuse permission. Actual "clever girls" don’t need such advice, but if you’re not looking for real tips and just want a lighthearted, fluffy book that can be read in three-minute increments (bathroom, I’m looking at you), then by all means, go for it.