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Do you remember the best summer of your life? The one in which you struck out from your ordinary life, threw caution to the wind, and vowed to soak up all that the world had to offer? Perhaps it was waiting tables in a quaint seaside town; backpacking across Europe with exotic locals as guides; or a cross-country drive in an automobile less than suited to the task. No matter the circumstances, your best friend was usually at your side, and the experience no doubt profoundly influenced who you would become and provided memories to last a lifetime.

In her memoir SUMMER AT TIFFANY (Avon A; Trade Paperback; On sale: March 30, 2010; $12.99) Marjorie Hart, a retired professional cellist and former chair of the Department of Fine Arts at the University of San Diego, recounts her own unforgettable summer. It was May of 1945 when she and her best friend Marty impetuously abandoned plans for summer classes at the University of Iowa in order to test their fortune in New York City. That fateful decision would prove to be a defining moment in their young lives, as Marjorie and Marty would soon find themselves working in one of the most glamorous stores in the world—Tiffany & Co.

Hart’s memoir, SUMMER AT TIFFANY, exudes warmth and enthusiasm as she recounts how a girl who grew up in a town so small you didn’t even need to know your street address came to spend her summer living in Manhattan. In 1945, Marjorie Jacobson and Marty Garrett were roommates at the University of Iowa’s Kappa Kappa Gamma house where some of their sorority sisters had already landed fabulous summer jobs in New York. Ever the plucky sort, Marty convinced Marjorie that they had to join them. Armed with just enough money for train fare, a modest apartment, and perhaps a ticket to see one Broadway show, the girls set out on their adventure. Jobs at Lord & Taylor or Saks Fifth Avenue were decidedly much more difficult to come by then they had planned, but luckily a fortuitous connection with public relations legend Carl Byoir and a refreshing dose of naiveté on their part landed them spots as the first women pages at the world renowned Tiffany and Co.

SUMMER AT TIFFANY takes us behind the scenes at the exclusive store, where the girls ferried about priceless gems for the store’s elegant customers—and caught glimpse of celebrities like Judy Garland and Marlene Dietrich. On the weekends Marjorie and her friends stretched their meager earnings, savoring all that New York City had to offer. They danced at famous haunts such as La Martinique and The Astor Roof; had drinks at Jack Dempsey’s with navy beaus in uniform; got lost on the trains; swam in the ocean at Jones Beach; and found love. From experiencing VJ day as part of the legendary crowd in Times Square, to enjoying 15-cent sandwiches at the Automat, Hart reminisces about every special moment with joyful exuberance and zest for life.  She also pays tribute to the toll of the Great War on our nation, and especially to those lives lost during WWII— including her own beloved family members and her hometown classmates gone far too soon.

While SUMMER AT TIFFANY is enchanting simply for the nostalgic glimpse of the heady days in New York during the final hours of World War II, it is also that rare, multi-layered read that is instantly relatable to all. A bright and sparkling memoir, Hart’s also conjures up memories of times in our own lives when everything was fresh, exciting, and brimming with boundless opportunity. Marjorie and Marty provide a gentle reminder that perhaps, if one approaches each new situation as they did so many years ago—with aplomb, enthusiasm, and determination—anything is possible and dreams can become reality.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marjorie Hart, age 89, is the former chairman of the Fine Arts Department at the University of San Diego and a professional cellist. In January 2006, at the age of eighty-one, she attended a local writers’ conference at San Diego State University to learn more about self-publishing the story she had written as a legacy for her grandchildren.  Upon an offer to publish her book, based on its opening pages alone, she decided to share Summer at Tiffany with the world. She lives in La Mesa, California.

SUMMER AT TIFFANY
By Marjorie Hart
Avon A; Trade Paperback
On Sale: March 30, 2010
ISBN: 9780061189531
Price: $12.99/336pp
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AUTHOR PHOTO: © Mark Johann 2006