What you would expect: trivial, shallow, irrelevant, wasteful, and fascinating.
Truman Capote and the fabulously wealthy 'women who lunch' he seduced with his charm, ingratiating himself into their lonely lives. To me, these were the backstories of the fashionable paper dolls I played with in the 1950s. Guilty pleasure.
Affected, diminutive Truman Capote and tall, elegant New York socialite Barbara "Babe" Paley were a true Odd Couple, the strangest yet ultimately most compelling love story I think I've ever read. And they really did seem to love one another, to understand one another in ways no one else did, which makes Truman's betrayal almost incomprehensible. (Almost. The seeds can be found in his bleak, chaotic childhood.)
After the astounding success of his 1965 true crime masterwork "In Cold Blood," and his Black & White Ball, the fabulous, over-the-top 1966 gala to end all galas he gave ostensibly for Washington Post publisher Kay Graham but really for himself, Capote seemed ever more desperate to prove to the world (and especially himself) that he still had the gift of serious writing. In 1975 began to publish in Esquire magazine installments of another true-life story, this one a thinly-veiled, gossipy tell-all that spilled the secrets of his famous friends. Though his appalled writer friends tried to warn him, Truman blithely assumed his swans and their husbands would never recognize themselves.
He could not have been more wrong, and therein lies the wrenching climax of Melanie Benjamin's lyrical, poignant tale. Highly recommended.
Fascinating look into the lives of Truman Capote and his harem. Not so interested in him but got a good history on Babe Paley and others of whom I'd heard but knew little about. It's a novelization but enough fact within to make it educational.
Historical fiction novels are my absolute favorite to read. This one was no exception. In fact, I felt this book was in a whole other plane compared to all the other historical fiction I've read. Similar to Villa America by Liza Klaussman, this book was about how riches and glamour and fame all eventually fall away to a sad and insecure inner existence. Impeccably written, this book was quite honestly a life-changer for me; by the time the book was finished, I was in tears and left heartbroken about these characters who only focused on wealth, beauty, and gossip throughout their life, yet finding they'd still be turned to dust at the ends of their lives like all the rest of us. The Swans of Fifth Avenue was not only written exquisitely, but also with endless literary components that are bound to engross readers. The metaphors and themes and, in a way, satire, was used so effectively. Five out of five stars. A must read.
A glimpse into a part of history and high living society that I never have known much about. Like the author wrote in her afterword I am very much inspired to learn more about Babe Paley, Slim Keith, Gloria Guinness etc... and most of all to finally read In Cold Blood which I've owned but left unread for ages. I can't claim to have liked anyone, least of all Truman Capote but Melanie Benjamin's passion for her subject shows through and made this an entertaining and enlightening read.
I wasn't a fan of this. I didn't see the point of their story and didn't feel sympathy or interest in these characters. I understand the time period and appreciate the fact that these stories are told but it wasn't my cup of tea. I was just waiting for it to be over -- I felt like it should have ended a lot sooner than it did.
Fantastic storytelling from the author of The Aviator's Wife, this story sweeps from one end of Fifth Ave to the other, capturing all the political, racial and cultural mores of the '50-'60s.
A glimpse into the lives of upper class women of a bygone era. The book examines class, friendship, betrayal and stardom. I can't help but feel that despite the beauty and the attention these women got their lives were painfully empty and Truman Capote despite his self awareness could not help being an attention loving fool.
Light and fluffy, fun read, especially if you have heard of and have any curiosity about the New York "ladies who lunch" or yesteryear, and/or Truman Capote. This book is sort of like an oversized Vanity Fair article without the photos. Enjoyable and mindless.
It was a beacon, a spire, a beacon on top of a spire.
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