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10 Aug 2005

The Best of Everything.

Written by sally @ 8:28 am — Section: sally

I heard an interview with Rona Jaffe on NPR the other morning, and she was describing her book, The Best of Everything, as Sex & the City for the 50s. It was published in 1958 and caused quite a stir, apparently — not because working girls weren’t having sex, but because it was uncouth to talk about it.

Let me make this clearer: it wasn’t the thing nice girls (or characters in books) talked about. And the characters in The Best of Everything are nice girls. They meet while working in the typing pool at a publishing company (seriously, I want to eat this book: it’s New York in the 50s! publishing house! typing pool! working girls! Automat!!) and meet various men. If any of you read and loved Marjorie Morningstar when you were teenagers, you will adore this book.

It has the same charm that Doris Day movies have: even when the plot is ho-hum (and lord, the same plot where Doris is a 40-year-old virgin wears on me — what’s that movie where Cary Grant is trying to seduce her and she keeps getting sick? dear lord, woman, you are OLD and it is CARY FUCKING GRANT: give it up!), the clothes are awesome. One of the girls keeps charging new seasonal wardrobes (she has a rich boyfriend who takes her to lots of functions, and she has to have new, pretty clothes for all of them) and the descriptions are vivid and tactile. If I don’t get a camel-colored cashmere coat and a smart tweed suit with a raccoon collar this winter, I am going to be very, very unhappy.

I’m about halfway through it, but I thought I’d go ahead and report on it since I do not anticipate major changes. It’s entertaining, has pretty clothes, is sort of scandalous, and describes New York in the 50s. What else do you need?

(Special thanks to J. Bubba Cots for this as a birthday present.)

11 Responses to “The Best of Everything.”

  1. J. Bubba Cots said:

    You’re very welcome, Sally. I gave you this book in hopes that it would ultimately lead to a rendezvous involving me and a love-starved New York typing pool. But, you know, not from the 50s. I don’t want a rendezvous with mamaw.

    There was no motive behind the other one.

  2. sally said:

    I don’t think you should rule out Mamaws. There are considerable advantages, such as eating your weight in pork chops.

  3. J. Bubba Cots said:

    That is true. If Mamaw brings pork chops and banana pudding to the table, it’s on.

  4. Calla said:

    Oh, God, this book sounds divine.

  5. gorjus said:

    EYE want to have seasonal outfits for various functions!

  6. vendela said:

    i found a bunch of barbie books from the early 60s at a library sale. i ate them up. all barbie and her friends do is talk about clothes and parties and proms and coffee shops. there’s one called the size 10 dress that is awesome. it’s about barbie’s home ec class, designing and creating prom dresses at school, a homely, fat girl who stalks barbie, and how midge saves the day.

    oh, and everyone’s always wearing gloves!

  7. sally said:

    On one of the girls’ first day at the office, she wears a shiny blue gabardine suit and has a hole in one of her gloves. It is cause for pity from the girl in the smart-looking tweed suit with the raccoon collar. But later they become friends. Seriously, everyone needs to read this book.

  8. ceo said:

    Okay, this isn’t a book, but it’s a good read. Imagine if xyz was sentenced to 55 days in the Winston County Jail, and had access to a blog:

    http://jailbirdjournal.tripod.com/main.htm

  9. kicker of elves said:

    Man, ceo: that IS a good read. Very interesting.

  10. sally said:

    I just read all of it in one sitting and am now blind. Very interesting.

  11. Elizabeth said:

    since you are done, go rent the movie version with Joan Crawford. It is divine!!!