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The Best of Everything Paperback – May 31, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (May 31, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143035290
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143035299
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #167,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

A classic of its kind. The dialogue is real, the people are real. [It has] the shock of authenticity. -- Saturday Review

About the Author

Rona Jaffe is the New York Times bestselling author of the internationally acclaimed novels The Road Taken, The Cousins, Family Secrets, and Five Women, as well as the classic bestsellers Class Reunion and The Best of Everything. She is the founder of the Rona Jaffe Foundation, which presents a national literary award to promising female writers.

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Customer Reviews

I read this book one chapter at a time at bedtime, and it was an enjoyable way to end the day.
K. Hudson
Rona Jaffe has a timeless voice that captures every nuance of 1950s vernacular while slicing to the very core of her most contemporary readers.
Titilola
I also bought the movie, so as soon as I finished the book, I watched the 1958 movie version...also wonderful!
Mercedes J.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 72 people found the following review helpful By E. Fagan on April 24, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I believe this is Jaffe's very first novel and, to my mind, also the best. Great literature? No...but character-driven, engrossing, emotionally involving and very, very juicy. Quite dated (takes place in the early 50s) but still a steamy and believably accurate account of what transpired for women venturing out on their own at the time...the brilliant, driven, heartbroken college grad; the sweet hayseed who loses her innocence; the "bad girl" who pursues an acting career only to lose everything over a cruel mentor; a single mom who exudes quiet strength & dignity and an absolutely provincial chick from the Bronx who smugly pursues her housewife destiny and is none the worse for it. They all surface at a large, glitzy publishing house for a time and live with the rampant, blatant sexism that was typical for the times but seems horrifying today. An ultra-enjoyable read with memorable, fully fleshed-out characters.
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Mary Fentum on August 10, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ooooooh......this is one of those juicy summer reads that is so hard to put down. Diapers dragged the floor, salmonella dripped off thawing chicken breasts onto the counter and the phone rang out its throat as I eagerly read page after page of this middle-brow novel.
Joan Crawford is reponsible for me hunting this book down in Amazon.com's used book shop. I've seen the film of the same title many times, but it wasn't until my last viewing during a local Crawfordthon that I developed the itch the read the novel that inspired the movie. To my surprise, I loved the novel. The film was much campier (what movie with Ms. Crawford isn't?) than the novel, therefore less irritating to read than the movie is to watch. For one thing, Hollywood's presentation of the women in the film is much less rounded and tediously more condescending than in the novel. The "girls" in the movie dither and drivel and snivel far more than Jaffe wrote them doing.
What was eerie about the novel was the contemporary feel of the characters' difficulties in their lives. Remove some of the dated descriptions of New York, business tools, and sundry material goods, many of Jaffe's depictions of women entering adulthood in a male-oriented world of more than forty years ago could easily be written today. Sadly, many of the demoralizing situations that Jaffe's five women stumbled into are, with slight alterations, still perpetuated and experienced in these more enlightened times. I think this relevancy along with Jaffe's engrossing writing style are what make "The Best of Everything" such an enjoyable read. It is definitely worth the trouble it takes to get your hands on a copy.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Mercedes J. TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
What a great book!!! I loved the girls, the time period, and even though I hate New York City...I loved it in this book! I also bought the movie, so as soon as I finished the book, I watched the 1958 movie version...also wonderful!

This book follows four girls through new jobs, new loves, lost loves, unwanted pregnancies, and death in 1953 New York. The pace of this book was excellent, and the characters were people you really come to care about. Seeing how there's so much to this book, I'm not even going to try to summarize it, but it was great!

I can't wait to get my hands on more of Ms. Jaffe's books! I've added all of them to my wish list and hope they'll be just as entertaining as this book was!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Swystun on March 10, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"You see them every morning at a quarter to nine, rushing out of the maw of the subway tunnel, filing out of Grand Central Station, crossing Lexington and Park and Madison and Fifth Avenues, the hundred and hundreds of girls." From those hordes, Rona Jaffe chose five composites and shares their lives as they navigate the complexities and ironies of 1950's Manhattan. Jaffe wrote this book while working as an associate editor at Fawcett Publications in the 1950s. Published in 1958, it was later made into a movie, starring Joan Crawford.

I work on Madison Avenue and though we have come a long way, there are some things that the women of the novel share with those I currently observe. Jaffe says bluntly and immediately, "None of them have enough money." I hear and see that from those women today who are just starting out in their careers. On a practical level, this presses them to quickly find support emotionally and economically. It sets up some desperate relationships that when viewed objectively are positively head-scratching. And this gives rise to the five interlocking stories that follow the personal and professional struggles faced by these "girls".

Jaffe makes some great observations that remain true today: hierarchical offices based on stature, bosses that intimidate to compensate for lack of skills, Seinfeld truisms like "You could die in New York behind the locked door of your apartment and no one would ever know until some neighbor complained of the smell", the role alcohol continues to play in many Manhattan industries like advertising and publishing "I like whiskey, I prefer it to people", and the season of the "Summer Bachelor" deliciously depicted in one of Mad Men's plot lines.

The book starts well but becomes a tad long and repetitious.
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