Cover Snapshot of Read Books

Sara's bookshelf: read

Crazy Little Thing
A Kiss at Midnight
The Disenchanted Widow
Hollywood Wives - The New Generation
There Goes the Bride
Table for Five
Do Not Disturb
The Husband's Secret
The Ugly Duchess
Help for the Haunted
The Power Trip
The Haunting of Maddy Clare
Summer At Willow Lake
Every Crooked Nanny
The Mystery Woman
The Woodcutter
How to Be an American Housewife

Sara's favorite books »

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Life in 1945: Summer At Tiffany

Summer At Tiffany is a memoir which was written by Marjorie Hart, age 80, about the best summer of her life, the summer when she worked at the Tiffany Flagship in New York City.

In the summer of 1945 college student Marjorie Hart decided to leave her Iowa home and go to New York City for the summer, this book is a memoir which reads like historical fiction. Marjorie and her friend Marty are young, beautiful naïve girls from the Midwest. Marjorie packs one suitcase and heads to New York with aspirations of working at Lord and Taylor, or some other fine retail establishment. Marjorie and Marty are shocked when they see scores of young ladies filling out applications in lines ahead of them, alas, they have moved to New York for job opportunities that do not exist. I had to remind myself often that this story happened during World War II, when my grandmother would have been the same age as these young ladies (grandmother, not mother)!

 With zero hope of attaining the positions they assumed they would have, the depressed girls leave Lord and Taylor. But as they drive by Tiffany, Marty makes a snap decision and very bravely drags Marjorie into the Tiffany flagship store. The two friends somehow attain interviews despite the fact that Tiffany has never hired women on the sales floor. Two attractive young blondes with Swedish heritage may in fact be the freshness that the store needs. The ladies are soon hired to work as pages at Tiffany for the summer, their uniforms will be fantastic Tiffany blue shirtwaist dresses from Bonwits and thus the summer has begun.

The items that really stand out to me relate to the 1940s nostalgia...the war rations, the support-the-war-posters, the president (Truman) and the innocence. The rent and electricity is $65 and Marjorie and Marty were making $20 per week. Twenty dollars doesn't go too far these days, it would cover the cost of this book and two Starbucks coffees. Having studied branding and marketing, I thought it interesting that their discretionary funds would cover items like Coca-colas, Lucky Strikes, and Jergen's lotion. And when Marjorie and Marty don their Ester Williams bathing suits—it just brings to mind such an iconic description. There is a wonderful sentiment that runs throughout the book that, "There's a war going on, make do with what you've got." Isn't that something that we can take and apply today in this economy?

 What I liked the best about this novel was the history, the whole perspective of where Marjorie is while important historical events happen around her. Marjorie and Marty were living in an era of REAL history and they were in such a great location for it! They saw movie stars, wore fabulous clothes, went to the theater, celebrated the end of a war and lived a New York dream. These ladies were very lucky not only in gaining employment at Tiffany but also in everything they did, things always worked out for them.

 Author’s insight: I love that after her 80th Marjorie was determined to finish her book! She applied at a local writer’s conference where she and her Summer At Tiffany manuscript were discovered. It just goes to show that there is hope for the rest of us; it is never too late to write that novel. And what about Marjorie’s return to Tiffany sixty years later… I love Marjorie’s sentiment that in her day,” Ladies dressed like ladies and men dressed like men.”

 For me, this would be the perfect summer book which I would recommend as a travel or beach read. Summer at Tiffany is light, airy and easy. There is no pretentious language, it is a simple story told during a time when our country was at war. The main character is somehow brave naïve and innocent as she leaves her Midwest hometown during the war for the first time to work in New York for the summer.

 Summer At Tiffany was written by Marjorie Hart and is 258 Trade paperback pages.