Saturday, November 27, 2010

Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart

I very much enjoyed this story of a woman's memorable summer in New York City, working at Tiffany.

The year is 1945, the country is at war and her family is horrified over the idea of her going off to the big city to have fun.  The impression is given that up until this point in her life, Marjorie has always been very sensible.  She attends college in Iowa, close to home.  She practices the cello and when her mother had surgery, she took a semester off to help around the house.  She never would have considered going to New York City, until she learns that some of her sorority sisters have gone to the City and easily found jobs and her roommate convinces her that they should do the same thing. 

The save up glass bottles to try to earn enough money for their train ticket, convinced that once they get to the City, they'll quickly find jobs and make lots of money.  They're going to go lots of Broadways shows and shop at fancy department stores and go to the beach.

Finding a job isn't as easy as they were led to believe.  Their first few days are spent standing in long lines with other young women in the employment offices, filling out applications and often being told there are no more openings.  Then they see Tiffany & Co. on Fifth Avenue.  Tiffany doesn't even have an employment office.  But they talk their way into a job as pages on the sales floor.  They're only making twenty dollars a week, and know they can't afford to live off that, but they can't turn down a job at Tiffany!

They don't let their meager salary keep them from enjoying the city, hoping for a glimpse of Wallis Simpson, and marveling over the laughter of Judy Garland, and trembling at the sight of a gangster who needs his watch repaired.  They date midshipmen and celebrate the end of the war in Times Square. 

I loved the innocence of the story, a glimpse of a different New York City, a time when people carried themselves with a bit more dignity.  It's a time when men and women went on dates and got to know each other rather than today when everyone is simply expected to "hook up" and "put out" moments after making eye contact.  It's the kind of New York I yearn for every time I wander around the city.  I enjoyed seeing New York City through the eyes of someone living in the City for the first time -- that first sighting of the Empire State Building, the shops on Fifth Avenue, dinner at the Stork Club. There were several amusing moments when she tried to order a drink or dessert, always wanting to sound as if she belonged and not like a wide-eyed girl from Iowa. 

I've been told that I'm an old soul.  I love Sinatra and black and white movie and stories about a time that I can only imagine.  Also, I love New York City, so this book was perfect for me.  It's a quick read and provided a nice, enjoyable escape from the holiday blahs. 

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