BOOKS…BOOKS…BOOKS: A GIRL NAMED CARRIE

By now you know my obsession with books…I’ve had it since childhood, I wasn’t able to participate in gym activities in my elementary school and spent that time in my Evanston, Illinois, Oakton school, in the library…I was in Heaven. I had been exposed to books from infancy and lord knows I’m WAY beyond that now. Finding new books is a passion and those who know me well feed that interest. You also know I host a monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club and have featured many exciting books on the intricacies of the genre. In addition, I never do negative reviews, what would be the point. I am, therefore, fascinated when a subject, or in this case, a personality comes to my attention that is totally new to me, my antenna goes up! When my dear friend, the Renaissance Man and member of TFBC, Jeffrey Banks, tells me I need to know about a book, I listen! Today’s review is such a book and when you give just a bit of thought you might think it ironic that I’m featuring it. I am, indeed, featuring it because it is a superbly written account of an amazing woman who at the beginning of the 20th Century truly set the standard for specialized service in retail. Let’s learn a bit about Carrie in the riveting story written by her grand niece, Jerrie Marcus Smith, whose father was Stanley Marcus!

Carrie Marcus Neiman, along with her husband and brother, had a dream, no, a vision, early in the 1900’s to create a specialty store devoted to service. Let’s turn our thoughts back to 1907 and visualize, if we can, what opportunities presented themselves to women…not many. This didn’t, for an instant, stop Carrie from creating a store that would cater to not only the new wealthy women but to any women who wanted style and individual attention.

Think about it very carefully, a women in her 20’s with no formal training, Jewish, married and divorced who would create the first specialty store and become its CEO…just imagine! Also envision Dallas, Texas in the early days of the new century…certainly not the Metropolis it is today….never mind, Carrie wanted to offer the high fashion of New York and Paris and offer it she did in what became the arbiter of style, Neiman Marcus!

She not only brought the fashion capitals to Dallas, she also brought her special clients to those capitals where she outfitted them head to toe. She had an eye and instinct that her clients trusted and depended upon for all their wardrobe needs. It wasn’t long before Carrie and Neiman Marcus became highly respected in the New York and Paris fashion salons which she regularly frequented. She produced fashion shows in the Store and was instrumental in creating their legendary Christmas Catalog, which we all eagerly look forward to each year. She along with Stanley Marcus started, in 1938, The Neiman Marcus Awards for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion Service which became known as the Oscars of the world of fashion!

She was quiet and unassuming but don’t let that fool you, she knew exactly what would be becoming to each individual. (A Nenas Note….those of you who know me know I’m not found of the term “Influencer” I’ll break that feeling by saying, I would consider Carrie one of our first Influencers!)

The book is truly a love letter exquisitely written by Carrie’s grandniece, Jerrie Marcus Smith, you will want to savor each and every word and let your eyes feast on the fabulous photographs which include an insight into Carrie’s home which was as enticing as her store. Do get the book, enjoy it and add it to your library. And, by the way, Jerrie and her daughter, Allison V. Smith, will join me in conversation about the book for nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club on February 22nd…it will be a not to be missed event!

Jerrie Marcus Smith

Photos from the book which will be published on November 30th available now for pre-order….it would make a perfect Holiday gift, not only for the fashionista in your life but also for those, on your list, who are interested in family histories, it is a gem!

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS: FALL OF ANGELS

This post is underwritten by an anonymous sponsor

D0CDC04F-EACC-496E-BD4A-8D630A1EA560Appropriate title for this week’s book review, why you might ask…..I’m doing a post later this week on angels!  I really didn’t plan this and it is only the title, a true coincidence….I’ll leave that up to you!

I have been an avid reader of Barbara Cleverly wonderful series of books (13 so far) featuring Joe Sandilands so needless to say when I read about the first in her series with Detective Inspector John Redfyre I had it on my to be read list.

As you know by now, I don’t review books I don’t like…in fact I don’t read books I don’t enjoy right from the get go….too many to enjoy, too little time to read all of them.  How do I choose, certainly an author I think might have something to say, who engages me emotionally, intellectually, stretches me, and once in awhile gives me a giggle (where are the Patrick Dennis’ with their Auntie Mames!!!!!). Authors I have read such as Louise Penny, Cara Black, Charles Finch, Rhys Bowen, etc. do just that and I am always looking forward to their next adventure.  And yes, a cozy fits into the mix, I think of them like a meal Intermezzo….a mind cleanser, if yout please.

Okay Nena, let’s get to the book. First off I liked our new protagonist Dectective Inspector John Redfyre, he is smart, kind, very good at what he does and, of course, good looking!  Set in Cambridge (a change from most English stories set in University towns…Oxford being the place of choice).  Perhaps not as highbrow (that is how it is depicted, not a criticism on my part), but, of course, still with the English standards of higher education and their rules and regulations. It is filled with mystery starting in the first chapter with a female trumpeter (unheard of then and I can’t think of many now!) who is in performance with a male organist.  She has an accident which brings our hero to her aid and so the story begins. We learn other females are murdered….none of them seem to be connected socially, but the method is the same. We, of course, learn about what the commonality is…I’m not going to spoil it for you. I will, however, say I didn’t guess the murderer until revealed, I liked that, it kept the mystery going, perhaps I missed the right clues!

Set in 1923, I found Cleverly has written a ode to the suffragists and those who followed them working toward more inclusion….not much different from today…equal pay, more opportunities in the hierarchy (hence the title), voting (although women had the right to vote in England they had to be 35!), and on and on. Well done Barbara. I also liked that she mentioned “brands” such as Liberty of London, fashion designers such Captain Edward Molyneux, adding a bit of panache especially when referenced by our sophisticated Redfyre.

Should you read it, yes, will there be another with our clever Detective Inspector John Redfyre, I would say definitely….at least I hope so.