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LIFE'S ACCESSORIES by Rachel Levy Lesser


by Rachel Levy Lesser

Pub Date: Nov. 5th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-63152-622-0
Publisher: She Writes Press

A memoir of vignettes about clothing and accessories.

Lesser (Who’s Going to Watch My Kids?, 2015, etc.) begins her story in 1987, when she was entering eighth grade. Her parents decided to move her from a small Quaker school to a prep school near Princeton University, and Lesser struggled hard to fit in. She begged her mother to buy her the kind of signet ring the popular prep school kids had, and her mother finally relented. The ring becomes the first of a series of talismans that ground the author’s life experiences; they also form the structure of this memoir, in which each chapter is dedicated to a specific item. Later chapters center on a summer camp necklace, a handbag, indoor scarves, yoga bracelets, and other objects. Along the way, each article takes on symbolic significance; for example, an Elsa Peretti gold-heart necklace packaged in a Tiffany box, which Lesser’s parents gave to her on her 16th birthday, came to represent her search for love in high school and college, and a pair of funky Chan Luu earrings represented the true love that blossomed with her husband. At another point, a Kate Spade bag is shown be emotionally entangled with her marketing career in New York City. Some readers may be put off by the privileged perspective of this account, which is repeatedly demarcated by shopping trips to luxury retailers. Overall, the memoir may resonate most with readers who are fans of social media accounts that focus on lifestyle and motherhood. Lesser writes with a sense of humor and a strong, clear voice that brings to mind aspirational chick-lit novels. Her reflections on coping with the death of a parent are particularly poignant, as she uses a scarf, given to her by her dying mother, to represent her parent’s wish for her to be happy.

An episodic, sometimes-moving remembrance.