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Please Excuse My Daughter Paperback – April 7, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books; Reprint edition (April 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594483574
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594483578
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,496,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jesse Kornbluth on April 16, 2008
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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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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Format: Kindle Edition
"Please Excuse My Daughter" (2008) is bestselling author's Julie Klam's memoir where she hilariously recalls her Jewish upbringing, her unconventional family, coming of age college experience, her relationship and marriage to her husband Paul.

It is easy to see where Klam got her sense of humor as her story began in a Florida Assisted Living Facility visiting her elderly grandfather. Eager to dine and get the "early bird special", her widower grandfather "hot property", pursued by a seductress in hair rollers with a walker. Concerned why Klam at 30 was unmarried, she realized how similar she was to her grandfather, virtuous, minimal faults, he made her feel like an adored princess. (From the book...)

"My whole life operated on a system of beliefs that held everything worked out or could be fixed. If there were questions about health care we called my cousin Barry, the doctor. Legal questions, my cousin Jimmy. Financial problems my grandfather would give us money."

With her poor grades and average SAT scores she was accepted at only 2 of the 26 colleges where she applied. Attending NYU Film School, she earned an internship on the David Letterman Show, and met Bill Murray, Jerry Steinfeld and Terry Garr.
It was the expected norm to see a therapist during college. Margot, "a striking young woman who resembled a field hockey captain", counseled her through crying spells, and anxiety fueled sessions where she discussed Disney Movies. Life for her at times resembled the "German existentialist film" she hated.

After college, after botched dates and unhappy relationships, she met her husband Paul, a creative project manager of a Video production company where they both worked.
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