Sunday, July 4, 2010

Review of Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart: A Memoir

There are many reasons why I liked this memoir. First of all, I must confess that I do enjoy perusing Tiffany’s online catalog. I’ve been in a couple Tiffany stores before with my mom in Chicago and Kansas City (My mom and I have taken some fun trips just to go window shopping in the big towns and keep our eyes peeled for a bargain or a little treasure to take home). It’s such fun to look at all the sparklies. And the salespeople always treated us with respect even when we were just looking.

But Marjorie Hart’s memoir, Summer at Tiffany, is about more than just expensive jewelry and timeless heirlooms. It’s about war and loss. It’s about growing up. It’s about friends. About taking risks. And probably my favorite theme, it’s about women forging their way into the work world.

During World War Two, the United States began recruiting women to fill what were traditionally men’s roles as much of the male population had enlisted. One such role was a page at Tiffany, responsible for relaying packages within the Tiffany building to repair shops or the shipping department. Marjorie Hart and her friend Marty were the first women to work as pages at Tiffany let alone work on the show floor. The friends saw actors, actresses and many other famous people which totally tripped their triggers.

Another reason I enjoyed this read was because Marjorie and Marty are from my home state and attended my University. It was fun to see how New Yorkers responded to these small-town Iowan girls. Many still have the same responses today – we must be quaint, naïve and very cute in our small-town ways. And maybe we are, but no more than most young women I dare say. Here’s another reaction Marjorie encountered when helping a well-to-do shopper:
‘I’m from Iowa.’ I said, flustered by the attention.
‘Oh, dear!’ She shook her head, her feather bobbing. ‘Here on the East Coast – we pronounce it O-hi-o!”
I bit my lip… (Hart 185)
Ha! That’s actually happened to me and when I try to tell people it’s IOWA they don’t get it! There were lots of moments like this that had me laughing.

The text is written in a present tense style akin to journal writing. I think it helps the book feel immersed in the 1940s as Marjorie worries about sugar rationing, painting pretend stocking lines on the backs of her legs and getting her hair pinned up for the perfect curls. I remember my grandma talking about painting that line on her legs because pantyhose production was cut for the war effort. Until this past year she always put her hair up in pin curls, too! Marjorie shares many humorous stories that had me chuckling. I enjoyed Summer at Tiffany and recommend it for someone looking for a fun read or for those who like memoirs.

Publisher: Harper Collins, 2007    Pages: 266
Rating: 4 Stars        Source: Purchased at a library sale for 10₵! Can you say bargain!?!


  1. I really want to read this book, I almost bought it this week but decided to wait because there are several other books I need to read right now. As a fellow Iowan I can totally relate to all of this Ohio business. Sometimes I have been surprised by others on vacation though, people know about Iowa for the weirdest things.

  2. this sounds great, i occasionaly buy books like this one when i need something a litle different.

    Going to add this to my list

    The Blog

  3. This looks really good! Definitely adding this to my list.
    Wait, people mistake Iowa for Ohio? How is that possible? Or maybe I got the mixup mixed up.

  4. Kinsey - yes! Three times I've met native U.S. citizens who don't know where or what Iowa is! They think I mean Ohio and I have to explain that I live west of the Mississippi.

    Ash - it is surprising what people remember Iowa for. Ususally, they're driving through and are sooo happy to be out of Nebraska's flats or they ask me about the State Fair stick food. Gotta love the fair!

  5. Thank you Chelle! Loved your review!

    Marjorie Hart

  6. Marjorie, I'm glad and thanks for stopping by!

  7. Sounds like a great book! Do people really get Iowa and Ohio mixed up? (Aren't they entirely different states- I've never been to the US).
    I love window shopping at Tiffany!