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Please Excuse My Daughter Hardcover – March 27, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-1594489808 ISBN-10: 1594489807

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover (March 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594489807
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594489808
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,149,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In her debut memoir, Klam chronicles the clash between her privileged upbringing and the real-world problems she faced as an adult. Growing up as the princess in a 1970s Bedford, N.Y., house with two brothers, Klam recounts her childhood as a series of shopping trips with her extravagant mother, often at the expense of her education. With her parents as an emotional and financial safety net, Klam's transition from coddled child to independent woman is anything but smooth. She falls in love with film at New York University, but spends several aimless years trying halfheartedly to find a job in her field. Her life takes a turn for the better when she lands a job writing pop-up videos for VH1 and eventually marries the show's producer, Paul Leo. When a series of health and financial problems rock the couple's relationship, Klam struggles to find her footing in a world where her actions have real consequences. The reader desperately wants to identify with Klam, but while her hardships are real and often heartbreaking (with flashes of sardonic wit), the voice is too infused with self-pity to earn empathy. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Fortysomething Klam’s debut memoir is alternately funny, touching, and tiresome. A quintessential Jewish American princess raised in a wealthy Westchester County household, Klam is ill-equipped to cope in a world where growing numbers of women are gainfully employed. Her mother, who spends her days sunning, gossiping, and shopping, would have been perfectly happy to have her daughter snag a rich husband and settle down. Klam manages to land a couple of plum gigs: as an intern on the Late Show with David Letterman and as an assistant on the VH-1 television show, Pop-up Video. At the latter, she falls instantly in love with Paul, the show’s producer (and her boss), whom she eventually marries but not before she has an abortion, Paul is diagnosed with diabetes, and terrorists attack New York. Writers like Karen Karbo (The Stuff of Life, 2003) and Dani Shapiro (Slow Motion, 1998) have set the memoir bar very high, and in comparison Klam’s musings seem decidedly mild. Still, it has its moments. Her account of a search for a wedding dress is likely to make all but the girliest girls wince. --Allison Block

More About the Author

Julie Klam grew up in Bedford, New York. After attending NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and interning at Late Night with David Letterman, she went on to write for such publications as O: The Oprah Magazine, Rolling Stone, Harper's Bazaar, Glamour, Redbook, Family Circle, and The New York Times Magazine and for the VH1 television show Pop-Up Video, where she earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Special Class Writing. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, daughter, and many dogs.

Customer Reviews

Then I got up the next morning and started reading it again.
L. Dean
The writing was real, thought provoking, at times upsetting and frequently humorous.
Laura Trabucco
"A woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs.
Jesse Kornbluth

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"A woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."

That was Samuel Johnson, writing in the unthinkingly chauvinist 1700s.

If he were writing now, he'd be noting the rash of memoirs by women, especially ones that try for humor. Because there's money in funny, and publishers and writers know it --- why else would a writer as talented and sophisticated writer as Nora Ephron feel bad about her.....neck?

Ms. Ephron condescends. Julie Klam, in contrast, is genuinely funny. The difference is not in the writing; both women are deft storytellers. It's in the truth of the tale, the sense that the events described actually happened even though they are crazy and wrong and life ain't supposed to be like that.

In other words, I buy Julie Klam's premise.

That premise is simple: She's a Princess, not born but bred. Her father has achieved a house in Bedford (the Westchester town that is the weekend home to Ralph Lauren, Martha Stewart and a legion of WASPs) that comes with many acres and the appropriate assortment of animals. But Dad's busy. She's her mother's daughter. And her mother, no feminist, spends her time reading, yakking on the phone and shopping.

Does Mom care that Julie is flunking everything?

Me: "Wow, Jenny Doe is doing really well. She's a Rhodes Scholar, studying theoretical mathematics and counterterrorism and is very close to discovering the cure for cancer."
My Mother: "Yeah, but she has those hairy arms."

Julie drifts and stumbles through school. She applies to 26 colleges. She gets into two.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Seneca Rocks on April 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book offers a glimpse into a world that is far removed from my own upbringing, even though I grew up right down the road. The value of this book, for me, was to break down certain notions I held in regard to the "have-mores" within the community. It is very easy to throw out a kind of reverse prejudice of those who were born with every advantage, as viewed by those for whom nothing was ever taken for granted. Through a bittersweet, relentlessly funny prose "Please Excuse My Daughter" reminds us that every advantage is not an advantage, and that an affluent childhood can impose the strangest kinds of liabilities. It's not easy to sympathize with the princess, but this book at least has the power to abolish resentments. I think that it is a book that allows those of us who did not grow up in this kind of world to humanize the stereotype while we laugh through the fragile premise that is at the heart of most self important people. This book should come with an adult diaper and a box of tissues. Worth the buy. A fast read. Each paragraph surprises and delights, often simultaneously.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gobi55 on August 30, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
Of all places I picked this book up at the Dollar Tree for $1. It's worth much more :)
Well written, fast paced, funny and sad. I was able to relate on so many levels that it brought back lots of my own memories (although my parents weren't millionaires). Interesting to follow Ms Klam's life and how she learned to adapt when she fell outside of the privileged world of Bedford. I highly recommend this book. Looking forward to her next one.
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Cathy Goodwin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Maybe I'm missing something, or maybe I was in a particularly grinchy mood when I picked up this book. Or maybe I just read one too many books about kids who transcended real hardship (like a few tours in foster homes) and did okay.

I love memoir and I love transformation-and-growth stories.

But as one reviewer said, it's hard to feel sympathetic to Julie Klam. She writes well. She had some up and down moments. Her childhood didn't prepare her for the real world of work. Maybe this sort of dynamic is interesting as a study in adult development, but it's neither unique nor especially suspenseful. I empathize more with her brother Matt, who can't see why she's still without a job.

Julie Klam had some great gigs. She got an article into O magazine. She knew how to work the publishing world. We don't hear about that. Instead, we hear about how she wasted time, how she got ready for her wedding, and infinite details of her difficult pregnancy.

One test of memoir is, "Could anyone but the author write this book? Is this life truly unique enough to compete with novels?"

I suspect millions of women could write about pregnancy, beloved grandparents and varied family members. The author needs to find not so much a voice but a subject worthy of her writing talents. How about a how-to book on, "How to get Esther Newberg to be your agent?"

That's more of an achievement as writing this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By 3rd member of Wham on August 4, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really liked this book and Julie has some really funny moments that I could relate to. Although the book touches on how she was raised to think she should marry a wealthy man, it is also a touching story of how her family supported her not only financially but emotionally as she tried to find her way in life and extended their love to her husband, daughter and several pets. Her mother sounds like a hoot and has some "interesting" beliefs that never stood in the way of her daughter's decisions. I would love to meet her and the aunts. By the way, I found the WWII books you wrote as you struggled to pay your bills. Best of luck.
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