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Review: ‘Summer at Tiffany’ by Marjorie Hart

by Kim on April 19, 2011 · 20 comments

Post image for Review: ‘Summer at Tiffany’ by Marjorie Hart

A Note from Kim: The original title of this post called the book Breakfast at Tiffany, a mistake I’ve been making for about a week. My apologies for the mix up!

Title: Summer at Tiffany
Author:
Marjorie Hart
Genre:
Memoir
Year:
2007/2010
Acquired:
From the Book Blogger Convention last year (geeze!).
Rating: ★★★½☆

Long Review: In the summer of 1945, Marjorie Hart and her friend Marty, two sorority girls from the University of Iowa, decide to go to New York to find work for the summer as shopgirls. They are turned away from all the top department stores they visit, yet through a little bit of luck and a lot of pluck, they are hired at Tiffany & Co. — the first women ever hired to work on the sales floor. Summer at Tiffany is the story of that surprising summer.

I’m really glad that I read this memoir during the Read-a-Thon a few weeks ago, since I think at another time I may not have enjoyed it as much as I did. The description — sororities and fashion and celebrities — isn’t normally my thing, and yet I found this memoir both entertaining and charming. It was like a breath of fresh air in the middle of my reading marathon.

What I liked best about it was how well Hart captured the spirit of that summer in New York in her writing. Although her style is relatively straight forward, she still manages to include some of her youthful exuberance and surprise in the stories she tells. I felt the sense of awe that Hart had about being a girl from Iowa in New York when she was — seeing celebrities when they came into the store, being able to celebrate the end of World War II in Times Square, and having a first romance with a dashing young midshipman.

Admittedly, there’s not much conflict in the book — no major scandals or revelations or problems that seem to be typical of most memoirs. Hart pinches pennies to make ends meet, but never goes hungry. She wonders about her future, but gets to choose between all good options. Her romance has some ups and downs, but there’s not a lot of drama too it. Normally lack of serious conflict in a memoir bothers me, but in this case I rather enjoyed it.

Summer at Tiffany is a sweet story, one to read more for the atmosphere and feel of 1945 than for any real conflict, but in the end it’s a story that I was charmed by while I was reading it.

Other Reviews: Reading on a Rainy Day | Book Journey | One-Minute Book Reviews | Chocolate & Croissants | The Window Seat Reader |

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Teresa April 19, 2011 at 8:45 am

I’ve had this one on my TBR list since I first saw the reviews popping up last year. I’m glad that you enjoyed it. Sometimes a book without too much conflict is just what you need.

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Kim April 21, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Teresa: Definitely. Sometimes light and fun is just the right kind of book for a certain time or mood.

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Jenna (Literature and a Lens) April 19, 2011 at 8:59 am

I’m glad you wrote about this one. I’ve been torn on whether or not I want to read it. Like you metioned, I wasn’t sure that a memoir about “sororities and fashion and celebrities” would be that appealing, but I do love reading about NYC, especially from a newcomers point of view. I may just give this one a shot afterall.

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Kim April 21, 2011 at 6:41 pm

Jenna: I’ve always been sort of on the fence about it — the history part sounded fun, but I wasn’t sure about the rest of it. This one definitely has a fun view of NYC from the view of someone from a totally different place, so that might appeal to you.

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bermudaonion (Kathy) April 19, 2011 at 11:46 am

This does sound sweet and I love books like this from time to time.

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Kim April 21, 2011 at 6:42 pm

bermudaonion: Right around the end of the war was such a fun time — so excited and optimistic. That comes through in this book.

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Andi April 19, 2011 at 2:53 pm

This one remains high on my wishlist. It just seems so cozy! Glad it worked well for you.

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Kim April 21, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Andi” Cozy is a great word for it! It’s just very sweet, and I liked that.

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Trisha April 19, 2011 at 4:17 pm

I can see how this would be a good readathon book. So far I haven’t had an urge to pick it up off the TBR shelves. It looks a bit to girly for me. Is it like totally non-PC to use that term? Crap.

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Kim April 21, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Trisha: It’s pretty girly — there’s a bit of fashion and celebrity watching and all of that. Like I said, I think there’s a mood about the book that’s quite charming.

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The Girl from the Ghetto April 19, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Oh, I missed getting a copy of this book last year at BBC, lucky you! I like the idea of a memoir that shows the happy side of life, for a change. I read a lot of memoirs, and while I love conflict, this book sounds lovely as is. I adore books placed in the 1940′s.

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Kim April 21, 2011 at 6:46 pm

The Girl from the Ghetto: I generally prefer memoirs with a little more at stake, but it’s sometimes nice to just read something that’s light on conflict and heavy on scene. This one definitely does that.

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The Window Seat Reader April 19, 2011 at 9:10 pm

I agree with your thoughts! Charming is a good way to summarize this memoir. I read this in 2010 and enjoyed it as well (http://windowseatreader.blogspot.com/2010/08/photo-goodreads-summer-at-tiffany-by.html). Great review!

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Kim April 21, 2011 at 6:46 pm

Window Seat Reader: Thanks for linking to your review — I’ll add it!

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Ash April 20, 2011 at 7:52 pm

I almost read this during the readathon! I kind of wish I would have now since it’s been on my shelf for awhile. It seems like a nice summer read though so hopefully I’ll get to it during the summer.

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Kim April 21, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Ash: One of the reasons I grabbed it is because I’ve had it on the shelf for so long. I think it would be a nice summer read — maybe a vacation book.

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Aths April 21, 2011 at 11:35 am

I really enjoyed this one too. It’s a quick sweet read and about good things in general. Most of the time, memoirs are scandal-ish, like you said, so it’s refreshing to read one like this once in a while.

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Kim April 21, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Aths: Exactly — sometimes it’s nice to read something light but that still has some interesting elements to it. The history made this one more enjoyable for me.

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Caroline Bonnoitt September 20, 2013 at 1:11 pm

I loved reading this book for my book club which is over 100 years old. We read non-fiction. Would love to hear from Mrs. Hart if she has time . I give the report on Oct.3rd. We have 20 members in it. I thought it was a wonderful book with history and Tiffany’s store .

Thanks ,
Caroline Bonnoitt
Mt. Pleasant, S. C.

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