A fond backward glance.

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SUMMER AT TIFFANY

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.

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-06-118952-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2007

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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