Summer at Tiffany

Sunday, June 7, 2009


My sister decided to read along for Sister Sunday, although we didn't have a reading contest this time because are schedules conflicted and I would have ended up having an unfair head start.

Today's book, "Do you remember the best summer of your life? New York City, 1945. Marjorie Jacobsen and her best friend, Marty Garrett, arrive fresh from the Kappa house at the University of Iowa hoping to find summer positions as shopgirls. Turned away from the top department stores, they miraculously find jobs as pages at Tiffany & Co., becoming the first women to ever work on the sales floor. Hart takes us back to the magical time when she and Marty rubbed elbows with the rich and famous; pinched pennies to eat at the Automat; experienced nightlife at La Martinique; and danced away their weekends with dashing midshipmen."

Both my sister and I enjoyed today's book - it was a really fun, breezy read. I found the author's excitement contagious and I started to feel all swept up in it. I was particularly amused by the letters that Marjorie wrote home to her family, detailing the fun and exciting new things she saw and learned about: a pop-up toaster, a new-fangled thing called an eyelash curler, her first experience operating an elevator. It was all so quaint and delightful.

The celebrity name-dropping parts were fun too. According to the author Marlene Dietrich was the only celebrity who came into Tiffany's who didn't want special treatment. She stood in line with all the other customers instead of using the special VP room set aside for celebrities. I'm glad to hear that Marlene wasn't an egomaniac because I really enjoy one of her movies (well half of the movie anyway - the end part was terrible) and I hate to watch old movies and be distracted by thoughts of how awful the actress is in real life. It sullies up the old movie euphoria that descends on me whenever I'm watching a movie made before 1965. The author also mentions the time when Judy Garland came into the store with her husband of one-week Vincente Minnelli. She talks of how happy Judy seemed and how in love the couple appeared (ironic, isn't it?), and of how their wedding was such a big news story at the time that it resulted in "breathtaking" pictures in the magazines and the author getting swept up in their love affair. Whenever I read something like that I waver between being amused at the naivete of all parties involved, horrified (in this case by the thought of that union producing Liza Minelli and thereby leading to the horrendously awful wedding of Liza and David Guest, which leaves me wishing for some brain bleach to wipe away the images of them kissing), and sadness over hearing about people being so optimistic about something that I already know is going to end badly. It reminds me of that time I was in an antique store and I saw a magazine from the late 50s featuring Elizabeth Taylor and husband number four with the giant headline "THIS TIME IT'S GOING TO LAST."

Alissa has decided to do another guest comment:

For my second entry as contributing editor of A Book a Day I chose the book based mainly on the color of the cover - beautiful Tiffany blue (one of my favorite colors, not just for it's beauty but also for what it represents). This book had everything: nostalgia, movie stars, giddy youthfulness, and the glamour of being a shopgirl - it was like reading an old movie. Having never been a shopgirl myself I hope I'm not romanticizing the experience, however I feel certain that it is more glamorous than scooping ice cream at Disney World or scrubbing toilets at a hellacious country club, but I digress. My advice: if you can't have a summer at Tiffany, you should at least read the book!

And, as promised, here are a few more pictures of the to-read stacks. I'm going to tell you in tomorrow's blog entry how many books there are in those stacks - but for now feel free to continue guessing :