The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin

February 11, 2016 Friendship, Historical Fiction 6

Hello My Darling Bookworms,

I have a nasty habit of reading books about writers whose books I have not read. I mean, if you can say that two books constitute a habit… I recently finished The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin which is about Truman Capote and his gang of high class New York socialite gal pals. Having read nothing by Truman Capote, everything about this book was new territory for me (much like The Dream Lover (review) was all new to me because I knew jack about George Sand). *I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration from the publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affects the honesty of the following review, as I am ungrateful and tacky.*

swansoffifthavenueTruman Capote, renowned author, was an odd, though charming fellow transplanted from small town Alabama to high glamour New York City. Diminutive and charismatic, he managed to collect a bevy of beautiful and impossibly wealthy Manhattan socialites as his inner circle in the 50s and 60s. Chief among them was the seemingly flawless Babe Paley, wife of CBS mogul Bill Paley. Babe and Truman had an intense friendship based on a mutual appreciation of beauty, fashion, glamour, and gossip. In a tale full of intrigue, scandal, immense wealth, and ultimate betrayal, Truman and Babe’s story will go down in infamy.

High society always boggles my mind. I am Midwestern and tacky in the extreme, I simply cannot fathom the amount of money Truman and his swans were running around with. I found the lifestyle these folks were living impossibly glamorous, and I must admit the gossip and scandal tickled the bit of me intrigued by such things. I also totally cracked up when Slim kept going on and on and on about the time she spent with Hemingway. Everyone was all “OMG Slim, shut up already.” And I was all “Haaaaaaaaa! I don’t much care for Hemingway’s writing so this is extra funny to me!” (Please, let’s not roast Katie alive for the Hemingway confession, okay?) Truman Capote was a larger than life persona, like whoa. Do I love him and empathize with him? Do I want to punch him in his smug face? Is it possible to feel all these things at the same time?! And how do I feel about Babe Paley? It’s all so complicated!

If you’d like to revisit a bygone era, Mad Men style, definitely give this book a go. If you like Truman Capote, you should totally read this. If you find yourself having difficulty rustling up sympathy for the rich and famous, maybe don’t read this. Or. No. Read this anyway. Even you cynics will find it satisfying, methinks.

Talk to me, Bookworms! Do any of you follow celebrity gossip? Do you ever wonder just what goes on behind the fancy parties?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

6 Responses to “The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin”

  1. Sarah's Book Shelves

    I loved this one! I’ve always had a weird fascination with Capote…did my high school term paper on In Cold Blood. Have also read Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but ICB was the real winner. And – YES to reading about real authors who I’ve never (or barely read)….Hemingway (The Paris Wife) and Fitzgerald (Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald and I’ve read only Gatsby).

  2. Martha G

    This book was sooo gossipy & bitchy–I loved it. Another good one about authors I’ve barely read: Vanessa and her Sister (Vanessa Bell/Virginia Woolf).

  3. Jenny @ Reading the End

    Fancy parties sound dreadful! Even just going to parties as fancy as the fanciest party in my hometown (which is not fancy compared to, you know, New York), that was already too fancy for me. It’s not that I didn’t know the rules, it was just that rich people were basically space aliens. Who could ever need so many THINGS.

    (I agree with you about Hemingway. And I think he was a poophead personally as well.)

  4. monikalovelybookshelf

    I follow celebrity gossip so little, I see headlines and often wonder who the people are! (PS – I won’t roast you for not liking Hemingway’s writing if you won’t roast me for not liking Austen’s! haha)

  5. Un

    I totally agree — this book transports you into a glam past era. I loved the way the author got me into their mindset — pretty darn fascinating.

Talk to me, Bookworms!

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