Saturday, 10 August 2013

The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy

published 1958  chapter 1







[narrator Sally Jay Gorce is a young woman living in Paris in the 1950s]

Slowly his eyes left my hair and travelled downwards. This time he really took in my outfit and that Look that I’m always encountering; that special one composed in equal parts of amusement, astonishment, and horror came over his face… ‘What the hell are you doing in the middle of the morning with an evening dress on?’ he asked me finally…

‘I thought if I wore this red belt with it people wouldn’t actually notice’…

[the evening of the same day] I was still wearing the evening dress I had on when I’d met Larry that morning and the funny thing about it was that, even though 12 hours had elapsed since then, it still wasn’t particularly appropriate. I mean I really felt I could expect it to be the correct attire at some point of the day – like a watch that has stopped, eventually just happening to have its hands pointing to the right time. I can’t understand it. I have quite a lot of clothes and go to quite a lot of places. I never actually seem to be wearing the right things at the right time, though. You’d think the law of averages…




observations: Love the idea of an outfit being right at some point during the day – though sadly, as she finds, it probably isn’t true. Sally Jay Gorce has lots of terrific things to say about clothes, she’s one of the original inspirations for this blog: other entries here and here.

The picture is, but naturally, Audrey Hepburn in the film of Breakfast at Tiffanys, though she is wearing evening dress in the morning for another reason, and the reason that most people would assume (like turning up at the office in the same – perfectly respectable – outfit as the day before, to a chorus of ‘got lucky last night did you?’). SJ claims it is just the vagaries of the laundry, and that she is well-behaved – later in the book a boyfriend asks her to move in, and (very much of her time) she says “There’d always seemed to me to be something so dirty-sweatered and dirndl-skirted about living with a man you’re not married to.” She has no moral objections – it’s the domesticity she is worried about.

Sally Jay had pearls like Audrey/Holly, and that fact turns out to be important, for a sideways reason... 



... and this was our choice for an entry on Breakfast at Tiffanys, the book, also evening dress and pearls.

Links up with: previous entry, in which we wildly claimed this was Catcher in the Rye for girls. More movie stars gracing other entries – Rita Hayworth, Greta Garbo, Louise Brooks and Marilyn Monroe.

7 comments:

  1. Moira - I've always been such a fan of Audrey Hepburn's lovely grace and style. Such elegance! ANd I do love the wit in that comment about the belt. This one sounds like it's got a solid thread of humour, which of course appeals to me. Love that 'dirndl skirt' remark :-).

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    1. I know! I think all women are to some extent wanting to be Audreys. And this is a great book, very funny, and I'm sure you'd enjoy it.

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  2. Catcher in the Rye? There's a book I never have to read again....thankfully,

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    1. Oh Col! You don't like Salinger? I must say I have a more cynical view of him as I get older - you need to read and enjoy as a teenager and then perhaps never read him again.

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    2. I read this and MacCarthy's The Road in the same weekend and my wife had to hide the razor blades.

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  3. "There’d always seemed to me to be something so dirty-sweatered and dirndl-skirted about living with a man you’re not married to." I'd love to collect reasons why people didn't live together when they'd stopped believing in hell (and they'd no longer be ostracised by their friends or cut out of their father's will).

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    1. That's a VERY interesting topic. I was faintly addicted to women's magazine short stories in the 1970s (when otherwise reading great literature of course)and there were a lot of stories about young women deciding not to for various reasons - exactly as you say: often they were given advice by an older mentor. AS I recall, moral reasons didn't come into it, because they were very modern, but they always decided not to go ahead. I can remember some of them quite clearly, because I suppose I was imagining myself into their position. Times did change fast...

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