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Live Alone and Like It
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Live Alone and Like It

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  185 ratings  ·  47 reviews
Who can resist a book with chapters such as "A Lady and Her Liquor," "Pleasures of a Single Bed," and "Solitary Refinement?" In this priceless gem from a more genteel age, Marjorie Hillis provides no-nonsense advice for the single-but-hoping-not-to-be woman.
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published November 29th 2009 by Virago Press, Limited (first published 1936)
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This book was adorable. Pertinent, no nonsense advice to the single lady, as appropriate--for the most part--today as in 1936. The bits about your lady's maid were the only evidence of dating. On the whole, uplifting but also sensible advice for living alone--and exactly what this single girl needed to hear.
sounds like a self-help book, and in a way, I suppose it is. But it's so much more. . .
I found this book quite by accident--on a bargain shelf at an indy store in Asheville. I was travelling with a friend and we decicded it was too fun to pass up. We spent the next few days reading bits and pieces of it to each other and were soon referring to Marjorie regularly. For instance, I was debating about buying a dress, and Adrienne insisted that Marjorie would demand that I buy it. So I bought it.
At a
Jan 27, 2012 HeavyReader rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: students of the history of single women in the United States
Shelves: how-to
I got this book to review for the Feminist Review blog. I have mixed feelings about this book, and don't know what rating to give it. I wish I could give it two and a half stars, but since I can't, I will give it the benefit of the doubt and give it three stars.

I will post the full review once I write it.

Here's the complete review from

Potential readers should know two things about this book. First, the author was an editor for Vogue. Second, it was a bes
Returned the book to the library, unfinished :D
This book was so old fashion, and from the 60 pages I read, I felt it was full of repetitions.
I guess the main idea was that people won't feel sorry/bad for you if you're living alone, and YOU are the one who has to go the extra mile to mingle with people so you wouldn't get bored. So obvious, I think!
I didn't expect to enjoy this witty little book as much as I did. Written by the editor of Vogue in the 1930s, it tells women living along to buck up and enjoy it. Since it is almost 80 years old, some of the advice seems a little dated, but overall it is remarkably timeless. There is a chapter where the author delicately broaches the topic of sex, and it is wonderful to find a book that doesn't just assume single women will be sleeping with boyfriends when they come along, but rather asks them ...more
If someone had told me a few months ago what book I was going to read today, I would have laughed myself to death. This is so far from my taste in books it's unreal. Generally speaking I of course get a lot of fun out of those old-fashioned etiquette rules and advice for women (thanks Retronaut for the many laughs), but reading an actual book on those topics wouldn't have crossed my mind. However, when I stumbled across Hillis's book a while back, it just looked so cute and endearing, that I had ...more
This book, originally published in 1936, is apparently the great-grandmother of all advice books telling single women how to live right lest anyone think they're totally pathetic for being all alone in cold, cruel world. Marjorie Hillis has a really arch style of writing that's appealing, but some of her case studies of various single ladies and what they did wrong are so condescending and petty they made me feel like I was reading an ungodly combination of HIGHLIGHTS FOR CHILDREN and SEX AND TH ...more
Sep 08, 2010 Aneesa rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of Linda Goodman's Sun Signs
I couldn't resist picking up a first edition of this book for far too much at that charming new shop at 21st and Valencia where people were two-stepping in the back and everything (including this book) was covered in sawdust. But I am not an "extra woman" living alone on $100 a month (yes, this book does include actual sample budgets from the year 1936!), so I bought it.

It is really an historical document, and made me think things were actually pretty far along in 1936 (at least in New York, alt
I have an extremely high regard for this book because it is very likely indeed to make any reader snap out of a phase or circuit of feeling sorry for oneself and into actually doing and thinking and having an interesting time. Very highly recommended if you are in any way inclined to self-pity.

Personally, I have always had an excellent time living alone or in large groups and a less excellent time living with one housemate. This is because I have the horrific socialized-western-female tendency t
This is a splendid little book. The specific practical advice about how many bedjackets a woman ought to own and how to throw a cocktail party featuring aquavit and cheese straws is, perhaps, a little out of date. But the overarching message about the pleasures of independence and the perils of self-pity is as true today as it was 80 years ago.

The illustrations are adorable, too.

This is the kind of book that you'd love to be able to give as a gift to that special single lady in your life (espe
Love this book; it's entertaining and informative. Written by Vogue Editor, Majorie Hillis, in the 1930s there's many truisms that are still relevant today.
Melissa Schmidty -Schmidt
A Spinter's guide to Life circa 1936! It wasn't outdated enough to be quaint and/or unintentionally funny, containing some sound advice still peritnant today. Hillis emphasizes the importance especially of self care and "pampering", including recommending making a habit of serving yourself breakfast in bed, sleeping in lingeré, splurging on your evening meal (as well as encouraging you dine in a negligeé) and making efforts to make your dwelling warm and welcoming even when not expecting company ...more
Pamela Lessner
It was quite by accident that “Marry Smart: Advice for Finding THE ONE”, by “Princeton Mom” Susie Patton and “Live Alone and Like It” by Marjorie Hillis ended up on my nightstand at the same time. I read a few chapters of Patton’s and then a few chapters of Hillis’ wanting to compare the two. However, I soon found myself constantly checking the verso to see which decade, make that century, in which I was reading/living.
“Marry Smart”, hurriedly written in 2014 to capitalize on a letter gone viral
Despite dated language like "single women are extra women" and "We might not know what to do with you on social occasions", I gleaned some timeless ideas from this book. Ideas such as just because you live alone doesn't mean that you shouldn't decorate your living space; save money for a rainy day; and have hobbies. The older ideas in there were just fun to read, such as having a maid do your chores, eating breakfast in bed everyday, the cost of everyday items, and finding the best liquors to dr ...more
Elevate Difference
Potential readers should know two things about this book. First, the author was an editor for Vogue. Second, it was a bestseller in 1936. Those two facts should hint at for whom it was written and warn that much of it is outdated.

This book’s mixed messages caused me to have mixed feelings about it while reading. On the one hand, it empowers women by telling them they can live alone and not only survive, but also thrive. On the other hand, it implies time and again that any woman living alone is
Megan Winget
This is a great book - the Marjorie Hillis was a woman who lived alone, and liked it! It's not about how fantastic it is to not have a husband - she's not man-bashing in the slightest - but I think it probably helped many women sort of get on with their lives once they figured out that they probably weren't going to be young brides. And in the 1920s, I'd think that more women were coming to that conclusion, since WWI killed off lots of young men. It wasn't as bad as it was in Europe, where essen ...more
If you like the witty movied about The Thin Man or Cary Grant you will probably think this book is a hoot. It is a self-help book for women who for whatever reason find themselves single. There is advice for poor little shopgirls who have moved to the big city and are subsisting on $100 a month, divorcees for the nth time, and those who finally realize they are going to stay single forever. The illustrations have impossibly slinky ladies in big hats and floor length gowns. Everyone has a purse a ...more
Margaret Nordahl
Loved this book! Found it at the library by chance; just what I needed on the heels of my new single status. Written on 1936, it just goes to show you that things never change all that much! Fell asleep last night with a new attitude. Thank you Marjorie!
Charmingly quaint. Seriously outdated, but well written and a fun to read. Despite the attitude that you can't be happy unless you have lots of friends and dinner invitations (which I found somewhat discriminating against those of us for whom any kind of large gathering is just short of torture, not to mention a waste of time), most of the advices are actually quite good, although if you're already living alone and liking it, you probably already have figured them out. I'd recommend this book to ...more
This was such a great little book! Written in 1936 and most of it still relevant today! Her tone is wonderful, a "it may not be what you want but let's make the best of it and there are no excuses for being bored, demoralised and living poorly". Fantastic for those struggling with living alone.
Sep 15, 2012 Norah rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: a neighbour
I really don't know how this Bookcrossing book went and got lost in cyberspace. I registered it in the normal way, then it appeared with no journal entry, I searcheed in lots of ways and then finally found it here!!

My original comment was also lost in cyberspace.... I found it amusing, though really very dated but nice in a historical sort of way, and I think it did help a bit my recent change of circumstances though my last partner never actually lived all the time with me. As his daughter said
Funny, sharp, charming, and still surprisingly useful after 80 years.
I picked this book up at an outlet store yesterday because it made me laugh, and yes, I have already read the whole thing. Though live-in maid service and the popularity of sherry have gone a bit out of style since 1936, I still found this read to be witty and hilarious. But like the olden days of 1936, there are unfortunately still people in the world who seem to think that being a single "liver-alone" is a tragic state of affairs and that makes this book just as applicable now. Recommended!
Advice from the past always suits me well, and I adored this book--and this advice from the past translates very well to the 21st century. Good advice is like a good book: it stands the test of time. Treating yourself well, surrounding yourself with nice things, good company, returning hospitality, and not forgetting that you are a lady with class and style. . .no self-pity here! I do live alone and like it, but I return to this little volume often just for enjoyment and celebration!
Written during the depression, and written so well. Hillis reminds us of how to take pleasure in the everyday, and how to enjoy the best aspects of being by ourselves. I don't think I'll take her suggestion to go out and buy a nice bed jacket (why would anyone need a bed jacket?) and I don't see myself affording domestic help anytime soon. But this is a smart, feel-good book to go back to again and again.
hilarious. full of sage advice for single and non-single ladies alike. i was a little hesitant to be seen reading this one on the el, but it was worth it for how funny it was. my favorite part was the chapter about finding things to do in a big city when on a budget (seems to be my life story). "with a reasonable amount of ingenuity," hillis writes, "you can have a marvelous time on practically nothing."
A book written back when 'living alone' was frowned upon for women in 1936. The author reads like something out of Audrey Hepburn time. It was interesting to see how women were looked at back then and how the author had forward thinking about women. Freeing women to live alone and like it, enjoy not having to answer to anyone, and the pleasures of having the bed all to yourself.
Charming! I adore this type of book - which always creates a yearning in me for a time I never knew. I imagine myself to be Ginger Rogers or more likely Doris Day(you know, lovely apartment, Thelma Ritter as maid,great job, handsome men ....),although my own extensive career as a single girl was no where NEAR as sophisticated. Loves the 'Cases'!
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Marjorie Hillis was the second child of Annie Louise Patrick Hillis of Marengo, Illinois, and Dr. Newell Dwight Hillis of Magnolia, Indiana, both authors. Mrs. Hillis wrote The American Woman and Her Home (1911). Dr. Hillis was a famed, though sometimes controversial, clergyman who had served as pastor of Plymouth Congressional Church, Brooklyn, from 1899 to 1924. Miss Hillis had a brother, Richar ...more
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“... not talking about things she doesn't understand to people who do or about things she does to people who don't.” 4 likes
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