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Summer at Tiffany

Summer at Tiffany

3.8 136
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


“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.”

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.

What People are Saying About This

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

Meet the Author

Marjorie Hart is the former chairman of the Fine Arts Department at the University of San Diego and a professional cellist. She lives in La Mesa, California.

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Summer at Tiffany 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 136 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There were so many editorial mistakes in this book I had to wonder if I was reading a draft. This memoir is a very sweet read, and I do recommend it for an evenings entertainment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sweet read but RIDICULOUS amount of typos and even transposed or repeated paragraphs. Was this book even edited?
MrsSpinewiz More than 1 year ago
Wonderful true story, a great glimpse into life in glamorous, "old" New York! Beautifully written, capturing the essence of an Iowa country girl transplanted to NYC - although, as other reviewers have said, this book is very poorly edited - misspellings, repeated paragraphs, characters changing names (and other information changing - was it a teapot or a chocolate pot?) from one paragraph to the next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great, easy read, but really has HarperCollins stopped proofing for things such as proper spelling? Several cases of paragraphs that were repeated on multiple pages leaving me to scratch my head and wonder if I was crazy, only to turn back a few pages and see the same paragraph right there. Several instances where I am quite confident the paragraphs were not in the correct order either.
KatzenjammerKid More than 1 year ago
Reading SUMMER AT TIFFANY brought back memories of so many things that have slowly eroded over the decades--living life rather than defining it by one's possessions, joy in landing a summer internship that wasn't measured by dollars, relationships with family and friends in an easier time when the glaring headlights of instant media coverage and rampant cynicism hadn't reared their ugly heads, and most importantly, an appreciation of the simpler things in life that create the most lasting and beautiful memories, many of which shape the paths we choose to take. Hats off to Marjorie Hart for capturing a slice of time in one perfect New York summer!
pjpick More than 1 year ago
I was really looking forward to this one and found it a little disappointing. I love the 1940s era and what could be better than living a life of a single gal for a summer in NYC during that time? Although I somewhat enjoyed the author's story and the setting, the story and the author seemed a little superficial to me. And, how many times can someone say "Ohmygosh!" But to be fair, it must be hard to trade on those memories which could have occurred 60 years prior. Even though I found it somewhat shallow, the author saved the story for me by writing one brief passage on her recollections of receiving the news of a cousin being killed in the war. Her description of visiting her aunt and uncle made my eyes well up with tears. Even with some of my complaints I still recommend this book to represent a good snapshot of the era. A couple of notes of interest on the era: although often we see it as a much "simpler" time, Hart also showed us some of the drawbacks. For example, the job choices for women were limited, until Hart and her roommate hired on, Tiffany would only hire men (the girls had a connection); and, it wasn't against the law to ask what nationality a prospective employee was during the interview. Times have changed!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I kept reading hoping the story would get better, but it never did. I finished the book simply because of the time I'd already invested in it.
rocketladymm More than 1 year ago
Country girls enjoy behind of the scenes at Tiffany's in the 1940's.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book - very well written. I loved it and wish I could find more books like this one.
GirlyGirl694 More than 1 year ago
I fell upon this charming story browsing my local library on a hot summer afternoon. I read it in an evening and was delighted by it. It is the wonderful story about a magical summer spent working in Tiffanys at the end of World War II. I completely enjoyed the story of the Small Town Girls who played in The Big City for a season. Luckily, a couple years later I ran across this book on the shelf at Barnes and Noble where I immediately added it to my collection.
southernheart More than 1 year ago
Like most women, the words "Tiffany & Co." and the symbol of that little blue box warm my heart. Mrs. Hart's endearing story about her favorite summer was honest and heartfelt and made me recollect my favorite summer memories. It was an amazing beach read that I've passed to all of my friends. Definitely recommend!
Pebbles730 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading all about the two girls' travels and their summer working at Tiffany's. Being a NYer it was great to hear all about things that no longer exist and things that are still around from this era. The book gave such nice thoughs and explainations of this time period, it made wish that I belonged to that time. A time when things were so much more simple and life was different. I was sad to see it come to an end.
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
New York City, 1945. Marjorie Jacobson and her best friend Marty Garrett, arrive fresh from the Kappa house at the University of Iowa hoping to find summer positions as shopgirls. Turned away from the top department stores, they miraculously find jobs as pages at Tiffany & Co., becoming the first women to ever work on the sales floor, a diamond-filled ay job replete with Tiffany-blue shirtwaist dresses from Bonwit Teller's - and the envy of all their friends. Looking back on that magical time in her life, Marjorie takes us back to when she and Marty rubbed elbows with the rich and famous, pinched pennies to eat at the Automat, experienced nightlife at La Martinique, and danced away their weekends with dashing midshipmen. Between being dazzled by Judy Garland's honeymoon visit to Tiffany, celebrating VJ Day in Times Square, and mingling with Café society, she fell in love, learned unforgettable lessons, made important decisions that would change her future, and created the remarkable memories she now shares with all of us in Summer at Tiffany, A Memoir by Marjorie Hart. I was provided with the opportunity to review this book compliments of TLC Book Tours and found this book amazing and a must read. It is in the midst of WWII, and food rationing and stories in the newspapers and movie newsreels were common place. Since this book is a memoir you find out just what it is like to be a young college girl living in NYC at the height of the war. Times were hard as everyone was doing their part to aid in the war, from saving chewing gum wrappers and nylons to bacon grease. You even learn where they were making part of the atom bomb. This is a classic book that ties a personal touch to history during a time when we waited for news that the war would end.
K_Amberly More than 1 year ago
This book was absolutely enjoyable. My favorite type of book is historical fiction and I was skeptical about whether or not I would like Summer at Tiffany. However I had planned to read it over a six day vacation and then I ended up finishing it on the first day while traveling! Majorie and her friends, like Marty, are very likeable and reminded me of people I know from that generation. Through Majorie's memoir she provides a glimpse for us into a young woman's life in 1945 and VJ Day in New York City. My favorite part of the memoir is VJ Day - I would never have imagined it to be quite like her description. I found the writing style to be relaxing to read and yet made her life during those few months very real. The photographs included from their summer certainly add to your visual imagery as you read. Summer at Tiffany - a Memoir would be a great book to take to the beach or plan to read over a weekend.
KBrown More than 1 year ago
I don't think I would ever imagine a non-fiction book, or a memoir to be more specific, to be such an amazing read. I'm more of a fantasy, faries and magic, and Harry Potter sort of book lover, but when I started reading this book I knew I was going to love Summer at Tiffany just as much as I did any fiction book. In Summer at Tiffany Marjorie Hart, or Marjorie Jacobson, at the time, tells the story of her most memorable and amazing summer of her life: the summer of 1945 where she and her best friend, MartyGarrett, worked at Tiffany & Co. in New York. Ms. Hart tells all about their adventures around the big city, their apartment on Morningside Drive, the places they went with their midshipmen and of course their experiences as the first two women to ever work on the sales floor at Tiffany's. This book was very different than what I am used to, but I loved it all the same. In some aspects I feel like I could relate and connect to Marjorie and Marty because they are actually real, living people instead of fiction characters like Harry Potter of Eragon. This captivating 258 page book catches your attention from the moment the two girls are looking at Fifth Avenue from a double decked bus to their summers after Tiffany's. I would recommend this book to girls and women from the ages of 13 to infinity. I hope you enjoy! I know I did!
WashingtonMom More than 1 year ago
'Summer at Tiffany' was a very cute story... however it fell a little flat for me. I was expecting much more from all the praise it has received. I am also a Kappa, love New York, and have much jewelry from Tiffany's... WOW! I loved the history of the 40's. However, I needed my internet to reference all the "old-timers". I enjoyed this quick little read.
DSNY More than 1 year ago
I must admit, I picked up Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart just because it was on the Bargain shelf and I clearly judged the book by its cover. I am sure we are all guilty of that one time or another. Her story is a simple sweet telling of family, friends, life and love. The thought of working at Tiffany's during that era was unimaginable. Everyday was an adventure for these girls and I went in for the ride. Her voice was soft spoken, her passion for life was great, but it was her self-respect that made her character remarkable. Just yesturday on my way to manhattan I decided to drive past 106 Morningside Dr., it felt nostalgic. Great read for both summer and winter holidays!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book because New York in the mid-twentieth century is a particular interest of mine. I thought it would be interesting to get the perspective of that sophisticated city from a mid-westerner who had never been east of the Rockies. Sadly, I did not get a feeling for New York or for Tiffany. Everything is very superficially mentioned. She alludes to a gangster who visits the store but doesn't name who it is. She takes up much space about a plane crashing into the Empire State Building that summer, but only re-prints the New York Times article and, short of some parallels with 9/11, wasn't really edifying. She mentions her cousin who was killed in the war. Not relevant. She describes Tiffany's various floors but you don't really get the sense of that venerable retailer. And the author comes off really 'golly gee, egad' which I found extremely annoying, even given the year and her youth.
BrandywineFL More than 1 year ago
Best book I've read in a LONG time; read in 1 day!
StaticGirl More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My favorite book of all time!! Very well written and keeps your attention. It's so cool how they were the first ladies to ever work in the sales floor at Tiffany's!! So much fun to read!! Makes me want to get a job at Tiffany's! :)
Ilovemister More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book.i take offense to some of the reviewers. Want more glitz & glam???? That's not what they lived. I was so enthralled with her life. It was so nice to read about an innocent time. Critics have nothing to complain about. Where are their books?.. I bet there is no glitz and glamour there. Love this book and was sad to see it end. Bravo!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read for the pool!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago