Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart

Summer at Tiffany
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 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. She interjects wonderful imagessuch as going to the Stork Club for their ice cream rolled in shredded coconut, then drizzled with chocolate sauce or shampooing with Kreml ("Glamour-bathe your hair in Kreml," the as in Life urged).  She evokes New York City as seen through the eyes of two innocent smalltown girls. This is a sweet and quick read of a by-gone era.

Rating: 3.6 Good