LONDON (AP) -- An Internet lesson for future mother-in-laws: If you're unhappy with your future daughter-in-law's behavior, keep your thoughts to yourself, or at least don't email them to her.
One British woman has learned that the hard way after her blunt email went viral on the Internet and was reprinted Thursday in British newspapers.
After a "get-to-know-you" family visit apparently turned into an ordeal, Carolyn Bourne wrote an email to Heidi Withers, 29, telling her she had a thing or two to learn about proper manners before she married Bourne's 29-year-old stepson, Freddie.
The email criticized everything from Withers' table manners and sleeping habits to her parents' financial status after the young couple visited the Bourne family home in Devon, a rural county west of London.
"Your behavior on your visit to Devon during April was staggering in its uncouthness and lack of grace," Bourne wrote, according to Britain's Press Association. Bourne even said it was a pity that Freddie had fallen in love with her.
Withers then passed on the email to some friends, who passed it on to others. The email quickly sparked a debate in the press, on Twitter and on Facebook about who was right: The hypercritical mother-in-law or the future bride who offended her in-laws by specifying what foods she wouldn't eat and taking seconds without asking permission.
Edward Bourne, Freddie's father, told The Associated Press on Thursday that no one involved would comment on the matter.
But the future bride's father did surface, telling the Daily Mail newspaper that Carolyn Bourne seemed to be an unbearable snob.
Nick Curtis, a columnist with the Evening Standard newspaper, said the contretemps has revived every stale joke on the planet about intrusive mothers-in-law.
"I sort of sided with both," he told the AP. "I'm not a parent, but I am a son-in-law, so I side with the junior partner. But I'm old enough now to believe in good manners, so I sided with the mother-in-law too."
Curtis said there was a useful lesson in this for every family.
"The moral is don't send out emails like this, and if you do receive one, don't forward it out. And be as nice to your in-laws as possible," he suggested.
READ THE FULL EMAIL BELOW:
"It is high time someone explained to you about good manners. Yours are obvious by their absence and I feel sorry for you.
Unfortunately for Freddie, he has fallen in love with you and Freddie being Freddie, I gather it is not easy to reason with him or yet encourage him to consider how he might be able to help you.
It may just be possible to get through to you though. I do hope so.
Your behaviour on your visit to Devon during April was staggering in its uncouthness and lack of grace.
Unfortunately, this was not the first example of bad manners I have experienced from you.
If you want to be accepted by the wider Bourne family I suggest you take some guidance from experts with utmost haste.
There are plenty of finishing schools around. You would be an ideal candidate for the Ladette to Lady television series.
Please, for your own good, for Freddie's sake and for your future involvement with the Bourne family, do something as soon as possible.
Here are a few examples of your lack of manners:
When you are a guest in another's house, you do not declare what you will and will not eat - unless you are positively allergic to something.
You do not remark that you do not have enough food.
You do not start before everyone else.
You do not take additional helpings without being invited to by your host.
When a guest in another's house, you do not lie in bed until late morning in households that rise early - you fall in line with house norms.
You should never ever insult the family you are about to join at any time and most definitely not in public. I gather you passed this off as a joke but the reaction in the pub was one of shock, not laughter.
I have no idea whether you wrote to thank [your future sister-in-law] for the weekend but you should have hand-written a card to her.
You should have hand-written a card to me. You have never written to thank me when you have stayed at Houndspool.
[Your future sister-in-law] has quite the most exquisite manners of anyone I have ever come across. You would do well to follow her example.
You regularly draw attention to yourself. Perhaps you should ask yourself why.
It is tragic that you have diabetes. However, you aren't the only young person in the world who is a diabetic.
I know quite a few young people who have this condition, one of whom is getting married in June. I have never heard her discuss her condition.
She quietly gets on with it. She doesn't like being diabetic. Who would? You do not need to regale everyone with the details of your condition or use it as an excuse to draw attention to yourself. It is vulgar.
As a diabetic of long standing you must be acutely aware of the need to prepare yourself for extraordinary eventualities, the walk to Mothecombe beach being an example.