Summer at Tiffany

Summer at Tiffany

3.8 137
by Marjorie Hart

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“Hart has a genuine gift for conveying the texture of midcentury Manhattan…. [She makes] the dilemmas of her own young life both compelling and contemporary.”

USA Today


“[A] glorious once upon a time fairytale come true….I loved every moment!”
  —Adriana Trigiani, author

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“Hart has a genuine gift for conveying the texture of midcentury Manhattan…. [She makes] the dilemmas of her own young life both compelling and contemporary.”

USA Today


“[A] glorious once upon a time fairytale come true….I loved every moment!”
  —Adriana Trigiani, author of Very Valentine


A memoir acclaimed as “reminiscent of The Best of Everything and Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (BookPage), Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart is the true story of two best friends experiencing the time of their lives in New York City during the summer of 1945. The Cleveland Plain Dealer raves, “Hart writes about that stylish summer with verve, recollecting with a touching purity a magical summer in Manhattan, seen through the eyes of two 21-year-olds, just as the end of World War II approached.”

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

At the age of 82, Hart, a professional cellist, recalls 1945, when she and her best friend, Marty, students at the University of Iowa, spent the summer in Manhattan, in this pleasant but slight memoir. Failing to obtain work at Lord & Taylor, the pair, self-described as long-limbed, blue-eyed blondes, were hired at Tiffany's—the first female floor sales pages, delivering packages to the repair and shipping department, for $20 a week. Hart details their stringent budget ("1. Two nickels for subway. 2. Sandwich at the Automat: 15 cents") and describes, somewhat breathlessly, what a thrill it was to see such luminaries as Marlene Dietrich and Judy Garland shop at the fabled store. Her romance with a midshipman, the combat death of her cousin, the news of the dropping of the first atomic bomb and a vivid account of the celebration in Times Square after Japan's surrender convey a sense of the WWII era, but without adding much illumination. She does, however, evoke New York City as seen through the eyes of two innocent smalltown girls. 16 pages of b&w photos and illus. (Apr.)

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal

Ah, old New York: city of Snow balls at the Stork Club, egg salad at the Automat, and breakfast at Tiffany, of course. All three institutions figure in this debut memoir set during the summer of 1945, when then Iowa sorority girl Hart, along with best friend Marty, ventured into Manhattan in search of shop-girl positions at Lord & Taylor. When that dream is dashed, the two call on an affluent lawyer reference, who helps them get jobs as the first female pages at Tiffany. Readers glimpse the glamour of their work (with a cameo by newlyweds Judy Garland and Vincent Minnelli) and sense the excitement of the city (as on V-J Day). Now 82 and retired from a university post, Hart competently conjures her giddy girl self, but this persona may be too wide-eyed and innocent for modern memoir readers. Take it from this New Yorker (a former midwesterner like Hart): the city ain't always pretty and couldn't have been 60 years ago either. Where, for that matter, is World War II in this fairy-tale summer? It comes but too late, and because she refuses to relinquish much innocence, Hart's sudden sadness seems out of place. Recommended for nostalgic members of the "greatest generation" and ardent New Yorkologists. [See Prepub Alert, LJ12/06.]
—Heather McCormack

Kirkus Reviews
Manhattan during the summer of 1945, as the author remembers it. The country was at war, food was rationed and money was tight, but University of Iowa coeds Marjorie Jacobson (now Hart) and Marty Garrett somehow scraped together $40 each to buy roundtrip train tickets so they could spend a summer in New York. On arrival, the Midwestern beauties sublet an apartment in Morningside Heights and landed jobs as pages at Tiffany & Co. Never before had the venerable store hired young women to run errands from the sales floors to the mysterious upper reaches of the fabled Fifth Avenue emporium, but during wartime, everyone had to sacrifice. The discreet tap of a salesman's diamond ring (they all sported one) against a glass display case would set Marjorie and Marty, wearing silk dresses that matched Tiffany's trademark blue, skittering in high heels across polished floors. Between assignments, they watched for celebrity shoppers. Who could be next? Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli? Marlene Dietrich? The Duke of Windsor? In the evenings and on weekends, the wide-eyed yet commonsensical duo embraced all that 1945 New York had to offer: the Stork Club, The Glass Menagerie and Carousel on Broadway, ice cream sundaes at Schrafft's. Midshipmen escorted them to Jack Dempsey's and to Greenwich Village eateries. Kindly neighbors invited them over for lemonade and musical evenings at which Marjorie played the cello. Along the way, they developed crushes on men in uniform and endured such mild work traumas as a string of pearls coming undone in an elevator, but the undoubted highlight of their summer was joining two million other revelers in Times Square on August 14 when Truman announced victory in Japan.The 82-year-old author's memories have been polished smooth over the course of six decades, and her warm account of more innocent times makes an unspoken comparison with the way we live now. A fond backward glance.
“Charming and fun…reminiscent of The Best of Everything and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
“Hart’s infectious vivacity resonates with a madcap immediacy, delectably capturing the city’s heady vibrancy and a young girl’s guileless enchantment.”
USA Today
“This book offers insights into the women who lived through World War II. It’s a perfect Mother’s Day gift.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Hart writes about that stylish summer with verve, recollecting with a touching purity a magical summer in Manhattan.”
San Diego City Beat
“What do you imagine might be the most memorable summer of your life? Do you think it’s happened yet?
Buffalo News
“The (Tiffany) company should put this book on prominent display, for heaven’s sake—it’s that much of a paean.”
Emily Giffin
“A charming story of a charmed summer…I didn’t want Marjorie Hart’s effervescent memoir to end.”

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Read an Excerpt

Summer at Tiffany

By Marjorie Hart

William Morrow

Copyright © 2007 Marjorie Hart
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-06-118952-4

Chapter One

From the top deck of the bus, Marty and I were mesmerized by Fifth Avenue as we watched glamorous stores spring up like pages out of Mademoiselle. Bergdorf Goodman. Bonwit Teller. Cartier. De Pinna. Saks Fifth Avenue. Peck & Peck. We knew all of the stores even if we had never been through any of their doors-or even seen a store bigger than Younkers in Des Moines!

When the Empire State Building loomed ahead, we were speechless. I felt like a princess on a Fourth of July float, looking at my kingdom, which in this case was a landscape of high-fashion show windows, screeching traffic, and the tallest building in the world.

We couldn't stop to sightsee. We were looking for a job.

Marty was holding a Manhattan map in her lap, while I held on to my hat.

"Get ready." She pointed. "Thirty-eighth Street is coming up!"

We barely made it down the narrow circular stairs before the bus took off again. In my eagerness to cross the street, I stepped into the path of a Checker Cab. A man pulled me back and Marty screamed. My heart lurched as I tried to catch my breath. The light changed from red to green, red to green, before I found the courage to step off the curb and cross the street.

I felt calmer as we enteredLord & Taylor. It was a historic moment. We could be working behind one of their glistening counters as early as tomorrow. In a trance, I followed the scent of Chanel No. 5 past the cosmetics counters and the racks of two-piece bathing suits, Hawaiian dresses, and turbans with sparkling rhinestone clips. By the time we reached the elevator, I had mentally spent my first paycheck.

Opening the door to the employment office, I stared in disbelief. Marty was wide-eyed. There, cramped into a vestibule with overflowing ashtrays, were over thirty girls waiting for applications, some crouched on the floor. Included in that group were a Powers model type in a sleeveless pink linen dress; a pert brunette teetering on four-inch white ankle-strap heels; and two elegant girls with white shantung jackets. Looking at us, they smiled, giggled, and laughed. My face flamed as we squeezed into the line.

We were garbed in black. Totally. Black dresses, shoes, and cartwheel hats. Our inspired outfit had been copied from a glossy ad in Vogue, but that sweltering day, we looked like characters out of a Tolstoy tragedy.

Marty and I gave each other The Look. With heads up, we peeled off our white gloves to fill out our applications, and smiled back at the girls. Little did they know the kind of pull we had.

The harried manager didn't bother to look up when we handed our applications in.

"Come back next fall," she said crisply.

Next fall? She's dismissing us without reading our applications? She doesn't know our connections? I was furious! We'd counted on this job. We needed it for the summer. Now.

"Excuse me," I said. "We have friends working here"-my voice was so tight, I scarcely recognized the anger in it-"and an important reference-"

She shook her head, filing our applications without glancing at them. Or us.

"Don't worry, Marjorie, this isn't the only big deal in town," Marty said on the way out.

Beads of sweat trickled down my face. We trudged in and out of a dozen stores, waiting in lines and filling out applications. When we reached Saks Fifth Avenue the management only shooed us away. I couldn't believe it! What was this wild rumor that finding a job in Manhattan was easy?

It had all started a month ago, when three of our sorority sisters had landed fabulous jobs at Lord & Taylor. Lord & Taylor! The day they received the letters, they shrieked and celebrated the news all over the Kappa house until our housemother put the kibosh on the wild conga line they had started.

"Come along," Anita had urged every Kappa. "Getting a summer job in Manhattan is a cinch!"

The next thing we knew, every girl at the University of Iowa wanted a train ticket for the East Coast to find a high-fashion job.

"We can get on a train for New York, too," Marty said in our dorm room.

"New York City?" She couldn't be serious. Summer school was beginning in a few weeks and I was sure that her savings were as meager as my own.

"You bet," she said, pitching our summer schedule in the wastebasket. "All we have to do is collect Coke bottles-there's tons around the campus. Enough for a couple train tickets." Gesturing with her cigarette, she added, "Think of the fun we'll have-Broadway shows ... nightclubs ... and those beaches!"

That struck a chord. I'd never been east of the Mississippi River and had always wanted to see the ocean. Remembering the last stifling Iowa City summer that only a row of corn could love and the dim social life at Whetstone's Drug Store-now that nearly every eligible man was either fighting in the Pacific or waiting to be shipped out-it wasn't difficult to start collecting those empty Coke bottles. Leave it to Marty. Scooping up those bottles was fun, frenzied, and frantic. All we needed was that job.

Now, standing outside of Saks Fifth Avenue, Marty shrugged. I was scared. We climbed back on the next bus. The upper deck was crammed with servicemen, shoppers, and kids with ice cream cones dripping from the blazing June sun.

Two navy lieutenants tried to stir up a breeze with a newspaper while they debated the merits of President Truman. I fanned myself with my hat. A red-hot blister forced me to take off my shoe.

Marty was undaunted. Sitting close to the rail, she studied each block looking for the next strategy like some four-star general. The stores were becoming smaller, more exclusive, and more unlikely. Hattie Carnegie? Good heavens.


Excerpted from Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart Copyright © 2007 by Marjorie Hart . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Emily Giffin
“A charming story of a charmed summer…I didn’t want Marjorie Hart’s effervescent memoir to end.”

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