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Summer at Tiffany

Posted by Ann Marie on May 19, 2014

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The summer is a special time often filled with adventure, discovery, romance and new possibilities. This is particularly true during our youth when summers represent total freedom from school work and the opportunity for special summer jobs or internships.

For Marjorie Hart, the summer of 1945 represented a momentous time in her life when, against the dramatic backdrop of the last few months of WWII, she departed Iowa to live and work in New York City for the summer with her best friend, Marty. Summer of Tiffany by Marjorie Hart is her story of this extraordinary summer.

Their sorority sisters at Iowa State University convinced them that it would be a cinch to land a job at Lord and Taylor, and so with the boldness of youth, they boarded a bus with only some pocket change, a few dresses, and a small summer apartment secured. To their surprise, they discovered that there were no jobs available at Lord and Taylor or at many other fashionable retailers. As often in life what seemed to be a bitter blow turned into great fortune when they were hired for a summer job at Tiffany & Co.  To make the tale even sweeter, Marjorie and Marty have the honor of being the first women pages ever to be employed at Tiffany.

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With insight and thoughtfulness, Marjorie brings Manhattan in 1945 to life from the whimsy of ice cream for lunch to the seriousness of war rations and a plane flying into the Empire State Building.

Carol Haggas from Booklist wrote that Marjorie and Marty, “see and do it all, from assisting notorious gangsters and international playboys at jewelry counters, to rubbing elbows with celebrities at the city’s legendary nightclubs, to glimpsing General Eisenhower during his triumphant victory parade, to kissing soldiers in Times Square on V-J Day.  Remarkably, this winsome memoir was written 60 years after that giddy summer spent pinching pennies and dreaming of diamonds, yet Hart’s infectious vivacity resonates with a madcap immediacy, delectably capturing the city’s heady vibrancy and a young girl’s guileless enchantment.”

“Infectious vivacity” and “madcap immediacy” are superb descriptions of this special book. Summer of Tiffany is an absolute delight! I hope you will add it to your summer reading list!

 

To accompany this delightful book, I suggest:

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In Manhattan ’45, noted travel writer Jan Morris takes us on a trip to the Manhattan of 1945. The Queen Mary docked in New York City on June 20, 1945, with the first major contingent of troops returning from Europe. With Morris as our guide, we celebrate Manhattan in all its glory. With vivid details and stories, we tour Manhattan in the dawn of a new age, exploring all facets from entertainment, culture, business, and politics.

 

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The friendship between Cathy Timberlake (played by Doris Day) and her roommate Connie (played by Audrey Meadows) in That Touch of Mink, a romantic comedy from 1962 that also stars Cary Grant, reminds me of the friendship between Marjorie and Marty. The dialogue between Day and Meadows are some of my favorite parts in this film.

 

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How to Marry a Millionare is another film about female friendships. Like Majorie and Marty, the women in How to Marry a Millionaire rent an apartment in New York City and are working girls with glamorous jobs (models). Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable star as three roommates who rent an up-scale apartment with the plan of marrying a millionaire. Ultimately, love gets in the way of their carefully devised plan. This is one of my favorite comedies of all time!

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Where the Boys Are from 1960 is a difficult movie to categorize.  At first glance this film is about college girls and boys looking for fun and romance during their summer break, yet it is much more than a simple comedy. While it has its whimsical and funny moments, along with budding romances and all the fun-loving hilarity of college summer break, it also includes a disturbing and poignant characterization of a young woman who finds herself with the wrong kind of men.

 

Continue to celebrate Tiffany & Co.  with a trio about Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote takes place in the autumn of 1943 in New York City. Holly Golightly is a café society girl of about nineteen who ran away from the country and moved to New York. She has no job but lives by socializing with wealthy men. She befriends a fellow tenant that she calls Fred. He is fascinated by her life and slowly she begins to reveal herself to him.

 

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The film version of Breakfast at Tiffany’s released in 1961 brings the setting to early 1960s New York and adds a more light-hearted element to the story. This is a timeless, romantic comedy starring Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly and George Peppard as the writer-tenant.

Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. by Sam Wasson explores the making of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. From the feuds and conflicts on set to Hepburn’s impact on fashion, glamour, and sexual politics; Wasson reveals it all in this page-turning work.

 

-Ann Marie

 

Ann Marie is the Library Director at the Oliver Wolcott Library.

 

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