Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Review: Summer at Tiffany

Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart
3.5 stars

Reasons for reading: I have an interest in Tiffany and New York history; sounded good; Autobiography for Four Month Challenge

Description: "New York City, 1945. Marjorie Jacobson 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, a diamond-filled day job replete with Tiffany-blue shirtwaist dresses from Bonwit Teller's—and the envy of all their friends.

Looking back on that magical time in her life, Marjorie takes us back to 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. Between being dazzled by Judy Garland's honeymoon visit to Tiffany, celebrating VJ Day in Times Square, and mingling with Cafe society, she fell in love, learned unforgettable lessons, made important decisions that would change her future, and created the remarkable memories she now shares with all of us."

First line: "From the top deck of the bus, Marty and I were mesmerized by Fifth Avenue as we watched glamorous stores spring up like pages out of Mademoiselle."

My thoughts: This was a love letter to the bygone days of New York City and to Tiffany & Co. I enjoyed the first-hand descriptions of everything from eating at the Automat (I wish we still had them!) to VJ day. The celebrity visitors to the store were my favourite parts - giddy newlywed Judy Garland and sultry Marlene Dietrich, whom I didn't know had been so dedicated to the USO. I loved the stories of the inner workings of the grand store - the amazing secret elevator that could run by itself, the way the salesmen "rang" their diamond rings on the glass counters to call the pages, and the amazing goods to be had on every floor. And really, it was quite an amazing feat that two girls from Iowa could walk into Tiffany and be hired as the first women to serve on the shop floor.

This isn't an earth-shattering book, but it provides a brief look at a pivotal summer in North American (and world) history and at places and a way of life that are basically lost to us forever.

1 comment:

alisonwonderland said...

Nice review! A friend recommended this book to me a while ago, but I haven't got to it yet. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it.