Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Summer at Tiffany

SUMMER AT TIFFANY is a sweet, easy read about the self-proclaimed "best summer" of Marjorie Hart's life. If you adore clothes, jewels and movie stars, you'll love this book. These details were mostly lost on me, but I appreciated being transported to 1945 Manhattan and the Tiffany store at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fifty-seventh Street. The author's descriptions of the city and the characters that inhabited it at that time held my attention even if the story line didn't. While I enjoyed the way the author took me back to being a young woman trying to figure out her life, with World War II as the backdrop, the decisions Marjorie faced seemed less important than they might have during some other period in history. Maybe my own life has been marred by too many dark events, but I kept waiting for something bad to happen.

Marjorie, writing this memoir when she was in her 70s, captured the voice of her college self. I could feel the bubbly excitement of the two University of Iowa sorority sisters as they began their adventure and could almost taste the chocolate milk and toast on which they survived. And I identified with Marjorie's indecisiveness. Thank goodness for her friend and roommate, Marty. Marjorie wouldn't have lasted a minute without her. Once on her feet, however, Marjorie did fine, despite her knack for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, a skill I also possess.

The book's structure contribues to its readability. Straightforward chapters with few flashbacks and an occasional letter home made the story roll effortlessly from scene to scene. Short spurts of dialogue also move the reader along. The book opens with the girls gawking at buildings on Fifth Avenue as they ride a city bus headed for Lord & Taylor where they hope to find jobs. The sense of adventure is there from the first few paragraphs. After a few false starts and with some good connections, they land work at Tiffany & Company. After a few dates, they find midshipmen who take them drinking and dancing on a regular basis. This is their life as war rages and atomic bombs are being dropped in the Pacific. In short chapters Marjorie captures the glamour and excitement of she and Marty being Iowa girls in the big city. Several unpleasant events do happen to them and their loved ones and Marjorie is faced with an opportunity that presents her with a difficult choice, but these barley seem to dampen the girls' desire for distracting news of the latest fashions and the stars that wore them. I can't fault them. If I'd lived through these difficult times, I too might have needed these escapes.

Overall, I enjoyed the read even if I was disappointed by its lack of depth. Marjorie Hart had a beautiful summer and I'm glad she shared it with us all.

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