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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
"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. After a year of actual study, she transfers to the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, where she majors in film, has me for a teacher and escapes without visible scars. She interns for David Letterman. Life's good.

And then she hits the wall.

In movies, a young woman goes to a job interview and says, "I'm not afraid of hard work."

Julie Klam's truth: "I wasn't afraid of hard work. I just didn't want to do it."

As we have seen, Julie is not lazy. She just hasn't been raised with a work ethic. And they don't seem to stock them at Bloomingdale's.

Humor requires pratfalls and reversals. Once it's in gear, Please Excuse My Daughter has more than you'd expect. Bad jobs. Taking money from Dad. (When the American Express clerk asks Julie's occupation, her father says "Parasite" and only after a beat adds, "Like from Paris.") Working for Dad as a service clerk in his insurance business --- for six years. And there's the obligatory bad boyfriend, only in her case, he's a sociopath and an ex-con.

And then, the big break. She gets a job as a writer for VH1's "Pop-Up Video." And an even bigger break: She nabs the boss as a boyfriend. This leads, of course, to her firing. Along the way: an abortion, her boyfriend's diabetes, Rod Stewart walking through the rented beach house. (Yes. Rod Stewart.)

Marriage? Paul isn't ready. But Julie is patient. In her way: "Some days I'd sit at my desk and send Paul e-mails that said, 'Are you ready now? How about now? Now? How about now? Are you ready now?'"

When Paul finally crumbles, he mutes the Yankee game first.

Inside every funny person, we know, is a serious person fighting tears. In Julie Klam's case, the tears are for her astounding downward mobility. She was born with a silver spoon. She missed the memo about self-sufficiency and her parents decided not to coddle her. Unprepared for life, she hit some nasty speed bumps: no job, no money. Rather late, she woke up. The joke's on her.

Reading Julie Klam is like overhearing a funny person tell stories on a bus. It seems effortless. Don't be fooled. The little asides --- the observations about people --- are the product of much therapy and hard thinking. And the stories are seriously crafted. So what seem artless is really quite artful.

And what seems slight and funny and a throwaway turns out to...linger.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2008
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
on August 30, 2010
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
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
on August 5, 2010
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2009
Having two small kids, I rarely can find the time to read a book nowadays but I picked this up and never put it down. Julie Klam's memoir is so hilarious and touching and real. I could only read it in the privacy of my own home as not to disturb people with my sudden outbursts of laughter and sometimes even a few tears. Do yourself a favor and read this one!!!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2008
I loved Please Excuse My Daughter. I am going to recommend if for my next book group meeting. The book made connections to important, and often unaddressed, concerns in my life. The writing was real, thought provoking, at times upsetting and frequently humorous. I can't wait until we discuss this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2011
Growing up with money but with more importance placed on shopping than on school, Klam developed deep insecurities. She has no idea how to take care of herself, and despite her fabulous connections, flounders in her career. She bases her self-worth on what men think of her - and tends to go after the wrong guys. What I loved about this book was her imaginative and humorous approach to her situation, and the fact that the story keeps growing and developing when a cheesier book would have just slapped on a "happily ever after" ending. If she can make it as a writer, and find herself in the midst of all that chaos, this gives the reader a measure of confidence, too. Still, there are so many points when Klam seems too clueless or her point gets lost in self-absorbed rambling that the book loses its potential for power and clarity. Plus, it's often difficult to identify with her poor-little-rich-girl attitude. If you don't like the style right away, don't force yourself to follow through to the end.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2009
this is a wonderful book!! i thought it was great, and have passed it on to a couple other friends and my mom who all loved it as well!!!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2008
1. The author is hilarious.
2. The author is smart.
3. The author is completely relatable.
4. Her humor and experiences transcend beautifully into novel form.
5. Any 20 or 30 year old woman who doesn't know what she wants from life, where she's going, or how she's getting there will enjoy this story.
6. The author's genuine love and affection for her family and friends swelled in my heart and made me realize how much I love my family and friends.
7. The author shares her experiences working in really cool jobs, like Letterman and VH1.
8. Her experience buying her wedding dress, and her reaction afterwards, were the exact same as mine. LOL!
9. She reveals her true feelings about her honeymoon instead of playing the "it was fabulous!" card.
10. I bought this novel knowing nothing about it or the author, and realized after it ended (too soon) that I had read and loved many of her magazine articles over the last year.
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