Review: Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart

Monday, June 7, 2010


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.

11 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".

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com 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.

JessiKay89 said...

Great review! :)

christa @ mental foodie said...

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 :)

Aths 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!

Aths 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.

heathertlc said...

I got a copy of this book at the Book Blogger Convention and after your review I REALLY want to read it.

Aths said...

Heather, you should read it!! It's an amazing book! Definitely qualifies as a summer read!