When Gloria Vanderbilt Reviewed ‘Harriet the Spy’


Gloria Vanderbilt, who died on Monday, has a long list of books to her name: several memoirs, including 1985’s “Once Upon a Time”; a primer on the art of collage; an erotic novel, “Obsession” (“mint, cayenne pepper and a fresh garden carrot are deployed in the book in ways never envisioned by “The Joy of Cooking,” The Times said); a decorating guide. But she didn’t just write books — she reviewed them, too.


Our smile gets a bit nervous when, toward the end of this highly perceptive commentary, we came upon this declaration; ‘When I grow up, I’m going to find out everything about everybody and put it all in a book.’ We don’t doubt for a minute that she will, and Heaven help us all!

These 11 enchanting stories deserve to take their place among the classic fables. They come alive because they are rooted in the fundamental truth of the need for identity, and they illustrate the happiness that comes when we stop pretending to be something we are not and start being ourselves.

Whether Siti is making faces at herself in a pond, or plunging her hands into the black earth of the garden to see why seeds haven’t sprouted overnight, each discovery is full of the crystal clarity of delicious enjoyment.

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