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Review: The Smartest Woman I Know

September 4, 2011

The Smartest Woman I Know is a charming book in which author Ilene Beckerman celebrates her beloved grandmother, Ettie.  Along with her husband, Ettie ran a candy/stationary store in Manhattan.  Beckerman says

Whoever said there’s nobody as smart as an old woman must have known my grandmother, Ettie.  If she had been born in the late twentieth century, she probably would have been the superstar of advice bloggers.

The older I get, the more often I think about Ettie and the more her words come back to me.  Sometimes you don’t know how much you love somebody until they’re gone.

Beckerman and her sister went to live with their grandparents in 1947, when the author was twelve years old.  Even though the world as a whole was changing a lot, Ettie’s small world remained the same – she still worked in the store 364 days a year.  Busy and hardworking, Ettie didn’t have time to sugarcoat what she said.   Here are a few of her gems:

  • “So I’ll give you some free advice how to lose weight.  Don’t eat so much.  Don’t sit at the table and eat like it was your last meal. . . . And it doesn’t hurt to take a walk once in a while.”
  • “Don’t worry about the size of your nose.  The bigger it is, the better you can smell a flower.”
  • “Marry a doctor.  Everybody needs a doctor in the family, and with a doctor, you’ll always know he’s got a job because sooner or later everybody gets sick.”

Filled with references of the time period and quirky illustrations, The Smartest Woman I Know is a quick read that will leave you smiling.  Ettie is sure to charm even the most cynical reader.  This is a book you’ll want to share with the important women in your life!

Review copy provided by Algonquin Books.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
27 Comments leave one →
  1. September 4, 2011 5:21 am

    Oh this sounds adorable and quirky. I think it is lovely how the world changed around her yet she stayed the same. I would love to see pictures of the candy store.

  2. September 4, 2011 6:24 am

    I had a very special relationship with my grandmother, and even though she has been gone more than thirty years, I still miss her and wish I could talk to her.

    This book sounds charming; I will certainly look out for this one; I love to read about the 1940’s and my mom often talks about the candy store on the block that she and my brothers used to frequent (they had moved by the time I came along).

  3. September 4, 2011 10:07 am

    I love a woman with sound advice and quirky fun reads. Noting this one down. 🙂

  4. September 4, 2011 10:16 am

    That sounds very charming! My grandmother was a bit like that too!

  5. September 4, 2011 10:28 am

    She reminds me a bit of my mother-in-law – sharp as a tack, acerbic, funny, and wise beyond her years.

  6. September 4, 2011 10:47 am

    I got this one at BEA and I can’t wait to read it. It just looks so sweet.

  7. September 4, 2011 11:12 am

    Ettie does sound like a special lady, and I bet this book would make for a great comfort read. I liked that you included some of Ettie’s sayings in your review. It gave me a real feel for the book. Great review, Kathy!

  8. September 4, 2011 11:40 am

    You totally hooked me! Thanks for including those quotes, they made me smile. I just added this to my list! Happy Sunday, Kathy!

  9. September 4, 2011 12:25 pm

    So at what age do you get smart like this? Because it seems like everyone has a grandparent like this. I know I did. Or maybe it was just that generation.

  10. September 4, 2011 4:05 pm

    Lol, I always knew I should have found a doctor

  11. September 4, 2011 4:16 pm

    What a great tribute and I should follow some of her advice.

  12. September 4, 2011 4:21 pm

    Ettie reminds me a bit of my Aunt Bette! I can’t wait to read it. Thanks for your review!

  13. September 4, 2011 4:45 pm

    This sounds like a wonderful book. Ettie sounds like my grandmother, always working hard for the family. I loved the quotes…priceless! I am adding this one to my wishlist.

  14. September 4, 2011 5:03 pm

    That sounds like a nice warm-fuzzy book, and something I would probably enjoy – especially since my grandmothers were not … the stereotypical grannies.

  15. September 4, 2011 5:14 pm

    Sounds marvelous!

  16. September 4, 2011 6:05 pm

    What an adorable sounding book. I read a little book from her a few years ago on fashion and it was great as well.

  17. September 4, 2011 10:55 pm

    This sounds like a sweet read!

  18. September 5, 2011 1:48 am

    Sadly, I never knew either of my grandmothers, so this sounds like a book I would truly love.

  19. September 5, 2011 5:46 am

    This sounds like a such a charming read. I miss both my grandmothers.

  20. September 5, 2011 8:04 am

    I had to laugh at the nose anecdote. lol. Gems.

  21. September 5, 2011 9:00 am

    This sounds like a delightful read! My grandmother too always had lots of homespun wisdom that I quote to this day.

  22. September 5, 2011 12:58 pm

    Sounds cute

  23. September 5, 2011 8:14 pm

    This sounds lovely. And I need to listen to that first bit of advice!

  24. September 6, 2011 9:03 am

    Sounds like the advice could be from anyone’s grandmother. Cute.

  25. September 6, 2011 5:05 pm

    This sounds like a wonderfully cute and “read-by-the-fire” type of book! Every now and again, I like to read a book such as this. Love the advice on losing weight – don’t eat so much and don’t eat like it’s your last meal!

  26. September 6, 2011 5:50 pm

    This one does sound charming!!

  27. September 7, 2011 11:45 am

    Her grandmother sounds like quite a woman. I think I’d like this book.

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