Best of Everything

Jaffe, Rona. The Best of Everything. New York: Penguin Books, 1958.

Reason read: August is the best time to read Chick Lit.

The year is 1952 and women in the workplace are finding their collective ambitious voice. In The Best of Everything five young women seemingly only have the employment of a New York publishing company in common. Caroline wants to climb the corporate ladder; to go from typist to editor. April is as naive as they come but learns the timeless power of sex appeal. Gregg has the life of a jet setting actress, but secretly wants to settle down and be a housewife. Barbara is a single mother with a young daughter and Mary Agnes is mousy; too shy for words.

One central theme to The Best of Everything is the need women feel to protect themselves from predatory men. They are always defending themselves against the less than admirable advances of the amorous kind. There is a great deal of strategic purse shuffling and genius body blocking at parties and at the office. Yet, they all want to be married to respectable men.

A few quotes (out of hundred) to quote, “It’s like holding hands and jumping off the top of a building; did we think it was going to be any easier because we were holding hands?” (p 95), “It was like trying to categorize something in order to make it exist” (p 118), “The hard mechanical palm he had extended to her in his handshake had not been a unique phenomenon, it had simply been an uncovered part of the entire unyielding whole” (p 164), and probably the most tragic quote ever, “She leaned out the window and all of a sudden the mile long limousine with the two of them in it and the liveried chauffeur and the armful of rises and the soft music and the hip flask if bourbon wasn’t glamorous anymore; it was ridiculous; they were two frantic stupid people speeding through an ugly-smelling countryside to attend the murder of love” (p 194).

Author fact: In 2005 Jaffe wrote a foreword to The Best of Everything. In it she admitted her rise to success happened before she had even published the book. Who she knew helped a great deal.

Book trivia: The Best of Everything is Rona Jaffe’s first novel and it became a New York Times Best Seller and a movie.

Nancy said:  The Best of Everything is a given when thinking about the category of fiction that primarily explores the lives of young, single women.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Chick Lit” (p 53).



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