It was the summer of 1945. Cashing in soda bottles, and saving every nickel they could get their hands on, Marjorie and Marty scraped together $40 for their round-trip train fare toNew York City. They were leaving Iowa, in search of a summer job and adventure!
Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart was Michelle’s choice for the June book club read. In the past I’ve talked about our Ladies’ Literary League (Lalas). This month was our 17th anniversary. Over those years members have come and gone, but a couple of us have been in the group the whole time. Recently, to our delight, some of our daughters and daughters-in-law have joined us. The little girls who watched their mommies head off to book group are now reading mommies themselves.
It’s been interesting to see the difference in taste between our two generations. The older women didn’t appreciate The Maze and the younger women were bored with Sea Glass. We all pretty much enjoyed Hunger Games, but the daughters liked it more than the moms. With those lines drawn, I was happily surprised when Summer at Tiffany got enthusiastic thumbs up from everyone.
“I just love that time of history,” Michelle gushed, prompting a discussion about how individual and national values have changed in the last half century. We were meeting at Michelle’s house, and she had decorated with Tiffany boxes and teal plates. She had sprinkled wedding confetti all over the counter, and strings of pearls decorated the coffee table. The pearls were our keepsake gift from the meeting, but, she told us, unfortunately they were not real.
Summer at Tiffany is a straightforward memoir. In simple, girlish language – “omygosh!” “HolyToledo!” – Marjorie Hart reminisces about that eventful summer. Some parts made us laugh so hard.
She talks about the frustration and disappointment of searching for a job, and hoping against hope that they would be able to find an affordable place to live. She talks about the thrill of being the first girls ever hired to work the floor at Tiffany’s; and the excitement of waiting on very famous customers who came in to buy china and jewelry. She tells about the morning an airplane crashed into the Empire State Building, something none of us even knew about.
The nation was at war. She writes about the moral quandary she experienced, knowing that so many Americans were making sacrifices for “the war effort” while she had opportunities to go “out on the town.” She writes about falling in love with a handsome sailor, and the heartbreak of losing loved ones killed in battle. One of the most exciting parts was the partying and pandemonium of Times Square on the day the war ended.
The book didn’t require very much of the reader. It was like a lovely, slightly thought-provoking, walk in the park. It has some wonderful drawings and pictures of New York scenes and memorabilia. We all cracked up at the picture of Marjorie’s W2 from her summer of work at Tiffany & Co. She earned $220.00 and paid $24 in federal income tax.
My only complaint was that the author sometimes brought new people into the story, or referred to events that had no background. It kind of left the reader hanging briefly, but as the story picked up again nothing was lost. I was impressed that an eighty-three old woman could remember so many details and pull them together so charmingly. Definitely thumbs up all the way!