Skip to main content

Featured Post

Waltzing in the Music City | Weekly Snapshot

If you're in the US, do you have Monday off from work or school, to observe President's Day? All of us at our home do, which is lucky because this isn't a day that every company or institution observes with a day off. Even though it's not been too long since the Christmas and New Year holiday season, I'd been pining for a vacation for a while - something either low-key or relaxing that even the kids will enjoy.


Currently This post is coming to you from the Music City - Nashville - where we are spending the long weekend. We are technically here only for two days and will leave early on Monday so that we are home in time to pick our dog from boarding. Although I don't personally care much for the music scene other than to listen to what's popular on the radio, I had been hoping to stop by Nashville someday and check it out.

We are staying at the Gaylord Opryland Resort, which is a sight in itself, with its acres and acres of gardens and walkways. It's def…

Review: Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart


Do you remember the best summer of your life?

And so begins this memoir that spans one summer in a girl's life.  I didn't think much about the question when I started reading, but soon as I was done, I spent some time wondering which summer I would write about. At 26, there are only that many summers for me to remember, of which, of course, I barely remember the first... 10? The jury is still out on this.

Summer at Tiffany is the story of Marjorie Jacobson and her best friend Martha Garrett (Marty), during the summer of 1945. On an impulse, they decide to go to NYC from University of Iowa, for an internship at Lord and Taylor. As luck would have it, they do not get the job. But at the end of their day-long struggle for jobs, and at the edge of desperation, they walk into the Tiffany store. Their smartness and their connection to one important person land them their job, making them the first ever women to work on the sales floor.

Was this delightful? Absolutely! I love books with women characters who beat the odds stacked against them. I couldn't help but cheer along with Marjorie and Marty as they were recruited by Tiffany. I was also outraged when they were paid a really meager salary with which they would struggle to pay the rent, much less build any savings.

Marjorie and Marty were definitely two daring girls! They took risks, partied and had fun. They were the envy of their girlfriends and they went to midshipmen parties, where they found their dates. They also came across various eminent figures, and were present at several historically important events - General Eisenhower's parade, President Truman's announcement on the big screen in Times Square that the Japanese have surrendered, and of course, there is a mention of where part of the atom bomb was made.

This book was quite hilarious, such as - when Marjorie asks the elevator boy with a Bronx accent for the name of a handsome salesman, and in the process ends up pronouncing his name wrong; when Marjorie orders a "vodka daiquiri with a twist" having only once heard a lady order the same in a train; when a whole box of bouncing marbles escape in an elevator and Marjorie keeps pressing the Top and Ground buttons, praying that no one will see her while she strives to put all the marbles into the box. Marjorie writes in such a lively style that I never wanted to set the book down. Though at times, I found it slightly repetitive and predictable, I was able to still escape into the book.

Summer at Tiffany captures the life of New York very well. Imagine a city that was even then, as much any person's dream as it is today! The buzzing and teeming night life, the danger that rakes certain areas especially at nights, the very high rents making space a premium in NYC, the many celebrities that are a fixture at parties and prominent places day in, day out. Even though it is 1945, even though there is a war that has not yet ended, and even in spite of the almost-missing eligible bachelor species, I could still feel the magic of the place and get a sense of the immensely crowded place.
I tried to think of cover girl Jinx Falkenburg's fashion model tips, but only remembered one: Lift your chin above the horizon. I could practice that on the way to the subway.
I enjoyed this book so much that it pulled me out of my reading rut. On a basic level, this book is about Marjorie's best summer. But at a higher level, it is so much more than that. It is about looking at your own past and remembering all the people who made that summer wonderful, it is about locating some or most of those people and reconnecting with them all over. How do you write a boyfriend you haven't seen for sixty years? Marjorie asks. This book is about how, many years later, you won't be reminiscing about your career or education in specific, but rather how wonderful that journey has been for you. Even now as I look at my own busy life, I know that all this will not matter years later. I admire books like these which can totally change my way of thinking.


Check out this book published by HarperCollins @ Goodreads, BetterWorldBooks, Amazon, B&N.

I received this book for free from the publisher via TLC Book Tours.

Comments

bermudaonion said…
I love memoirs and this one sounds charming! I have a couple of best summers - the one when I graduated and got married and the one when my son was born.
Bibliobabe said…
Great review! What a fun idea to write about "best summers".
Tales of Whimsy said…
What a lovely review! You always do books justice :)
Alyce said…
It was fun to stop and think about which summer was my best so far. This sounds like a good read, and knowing that it pulled you out of a reading rut makes it even more attractive.
Anonymous said…
Great review! :)
I tried to post last night but blogger went down ;(

I like reading memoir and it sounds like something I'd enjoy reading so thanks for the review! Glad it got you out of the reading rut :)
Athira said…
Kathy, you will love this one then! I remember you mentioning some time back that you like memoirs. This was such a heartwarming read!

Rachelle, isn't it? I should consider writing one too. :)

Juju, thank you! :)

Alyce, it really was. Being nonfiction and a memoir and so much fun made it really delightful.

Jess, thank you! :)

Christa, it really was good! I will look forward to your review, should you decide to read it!
Ash said…
I thought I wanted to read this book when you mentioned it earlier and now that there is a University of Iowa connection I know I have to read it! So excited!
Athira said…
Ash, LOL! I got you, didn't I? Yeah, I'm sure that connection will surprise you in more ways than one! Read it, I won't tell more.
Anonymous said…
I got a copy of this book at the Book Blogger Convention and after your review I REALLY want to read it.
Athira said…
Heather, you should read it!! It's an amazing book! Definitely qualifies as a summer read!

Popular posts from this blog

Hell-Heaven by Jhumpa Lahiri (Short Fiction Review)

I first read Jhumpa Lahiri years ago, when her Interpreter of Maladies was making a huge buzz. At the time, I didn't catch any of the buzz, but for some reason, when I saw the book on the shelf at the store I was browsing in, I felt it just might be a decent read. Funnily, I read the entire short story collection without complaining about it, but for some reason, I cannot read any collection anymore without agonizing over its disjoint nature.

I did enjoy Interpreter of Maladies, but I did get bothered by the thread of loneliness and infidelity and distrust that laced through the stories. For that reason, I have been reluctant to read Unaccustomed Earth. However, when I came across Hell-Heaven at the NewYorker - a free short story from her book, I decided to go ahead and read it. I can't resist the pull of stories set in India or featuring Indian characters, and it is that same aspect that hooked me throughout this story.


In Hell-Heaven, the narrator contemplates the relations…

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Maybe that’s what religion is, hurling yourself off a cliff and trusting that something bigger will take care of you and carry you to the right place.
Bernadette Fox has a reputation. While her husband and her daughter Bee love her, there's barely anyone else who share the sentiment. Her neighbor Audrey loves to gossip mean things about her with her close friend, Soo-Lin. The other parents of kids at Bee's school look down on Bernadette because she doesn't involve herself in school affairs. Bernadette herself goes out of her way to avoid company.

And then one day, Bee comes home with an excellent report card and asks for her reward - a family trip to Antarctica. The very plan throws Bernadette into a panic but she has no other option. She hires a virtual assistant, based out of India to take care of all her demands, including getting prescriptions at her local pharmacy, doing her online shopping and taking care of some of the logistics of her trip. (It is ridiculous! Bern…

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (Short Fiction review)

With the Hunger Games hype that engulfed us last week, it was hard to avoid all the discussion of similar works that existed. Of the many titles that I came across, two stood out particularly - a short story called The Lottery and a Japanese novel (and movie) called Battle Royale (which I'm reading right now and just cannot put down). The novel will be fodder for another post, so for now, I just want to rave about the awesomeness that was The Lottery.

In contemporary America, villagers across the country are gathering on the 27th of June (and some a day earlier) for an annual event called the Lottery. Children, women, men, all come to the main square of their village or town, where the lottery master keeps a black box full of paper chips. One of these chips is marked has a special mark on it to identify the winner (the person who draws that chip). Not everyone draws however, but only the head of the family. Husbands are viewed as the head of their families/households, and if the …