The Best of Everything
Rona Jaffe
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Buy *The Best of Everything* by Rona Jaffe online

The Best of Everything
Rona Jaffe
448 pages
May 2005 [reprint]
rated 5 of 5 possible stars
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Originally published in 1958 as Rona Jaffe's debut novel, The Best of Everything has been reprinted by Penguin and gets an introduction to modern-day readers, set in New York City after WW II as three young women start out in life. There is Ivy League Caroline, who dreams of graduating from the typing pool to an editor's office; naive country girl April, who within months of hitting the big city reinvents herself as the woman every man wants on his arm; and Gregg, the free-spirited actress with a secret yearning for domesticity.

The cover of the book is a black and white photo of "real" office girls in the time period this book is set in and truly captures the spirit of the book. You look at the photo as it stretches from the front to the back cover and try to imagine which face matches which character in the book.

I first thought this would be a pathetic rendition of Sex and the City, or worse, Caroline in the City. Fortunately, it was neither. If I had to describe it, I would say it is Sex and the City (for the sex and the city in the book) meets My So Called Life (the Claire Danes TV show filled with young people searching for something, anything). But that still wouldn't fully convey the painful, soul searching, the pure angst these characters show.

Caroline is divorced with a child her mother takes care of. She is struggling to overcome her feelings of bitterness and advance in the workplace - she is no Mary Agnes only working to get her M.R.S. - while at the same time looking for love and companionship, but not the temporary lust offered to her by the summer bachelors of Manhattan. Next is April, who falls for a rich boy and makes the ultimate sacrifice for him like the fool she is. Then there is Gregg who only sees what she wants in front of her face no matter how bluntly things are spelled out for her.

This is highly recommended to fans of women's fiction or for anyone looking for a fantastic read. I like the genuine situations and honest feelings expressed in the story. Some of these things I have witnessed with the exact same reactions. Get this book and put it right next to your Jane Austens, where it deserves to be.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Kim Lightfoot, 2006

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