DoctorM's Reviews > Manhattan, When I Was Young

Manhattan, When I Was Young by Mary Cantwell
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's review
Jun 12, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: memoirs
Read from June 13 to 25, 2012

An unexpected find, and a beautiful, lyrical read--- the intertwined tales of a lost New York and of a doomed marriage. Mary Cantwell graduated Connecticut College in 1954, moved to Manhattan and into a series of jobs at fashion magazines. She married young--- too young, though in those days 23 or 24 was the age at which a girl from a good family was expected to become a wife and mother. She married out of social expectation and to have someone in her life to give her stability and replace the father who'd died while she was at college. Cantwell structures her memoirs around the apartments where she lived in 1950s and '60s NYC--- always in the Village or its outliers, from Waverly Place to Jane St., always seeing herself as more a Villager than just a New Yorker. There are beautiful passages here about lost streets and the vanished world of "Mad Men"-era Manhattan, about what it felt like to become part of a city and a neighbourhood she'd dreamed about at college. Witty and clever stories, too, of the fashion magazines of her era. And an account of an unravelling marriage and being alone even when her husband and two small daughters were nearby. Worth finding, both as a memoir of a time and a place and as a softly melancholy lament for the end of a marriage. "Manhattan, When I Was Young"... I love the sound of the title, love the stories implicit in just those five words. This will be on my shelves for a long time.
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06/21/2012 page 109
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