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February 13, 2008 > Book Review: The Accidental Secretary: A Memoir

Book Review: The Accidental Secretary: A Memoir

By Robert A. Garfinkle, FRAS

The Accidental Secretary: a Memoir, by Marsha Brandsdorfer, (Xlibris), 2007. Pp. 279, trade paper $18.69; hardback $28.79, (hardback; ISBN 978-1-4257-7985-6, paperback; ISBN 978-1-4257-7956-6).

What is a girl to do when she graduates from Queens College in New York with a degree in English Literature and has no real work skills, but wants to be a writer? She gets hired as a legal secretary to pay her bills while trying to make it as a writer. That is what happened to Bay Area author and avid reader Marsha Brandsdorfer. In her insightful and funny book, she relates her personal trials and tribulations of making a career of being a legal secretary in the sometimes nasty world of working for lawyers. Marsha has spent almost as much time in the last two decades looking for a new job as actually working as a legal secretary.

During her career, Ms Brandsdorfer worked for good attorneys who were also wonderful employers and mentored her on the various types of law practiced in whatever firm she was currently working at. On the whole though, it appears that she also seems to have located, been hired by, and struggled to please just about every one of the lousy ones as well. Oh the stories she could tell, and some of them she does. Ms Brandsdorfer reveals her behind-the-scenes experiences working in the legal profession in New York, San Francisco, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and then back to the San Francisco Bay Area again. I enjoyed the cast of wonderful friends that she acquired along the way. Throughout her odyssey as a single woman, she relates how she struggled to survive long periods of unemployment with her infectious, eternal optimistic approach that tomorrow would be a better day.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, especially Ms Brandsdorfer's breezy style. She did a great job of bringing me into her world and making me one of her friends. From page to page, I wanted to know how she was going to conquer the next problem life laid down in front of her. She had me pulling for her to succeed. "The Accidental Secretary" is completely unlike the typical dry memoirs I have read. This one is a joy to read, and I feel that you will find it a pleasure too.

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