An online marketing consultant, an avid reader of 400 + books a year. Professional reader, reviewer, and blogger. Enjoy ARCs and new releases.
A special thank you to Random House, NetGalley, and LibraryThing early reviewers for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Best of both worlds--digital and print.
When you think of Melanie Benjamin’s writing, and her spectacular historical novels which come alive with rich characters—reminiscent of past eras, as THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE, representative of: Timeless Elegance. Classic. Society. Glamour. Passion. Elite. Literary. Cultured. Flawless. Sophisticated. Vintage. Stylish. . . .
And often S C A N D A L O U S !
A literary scandal. Truman had divulged secrets. He called it literature. His friends had shunned him. He died. A cautionary tale. Social suicide.
However, what happened in "between the lines?" The author peels back the layers. The exquisite swan, Babe with the grotesque Truman. Why? She explores what happened between Truman and Babe. This is the story the author so elegantly tells, an inspiring blend of fact with fiction.
“What happened to Truman Capote and his swans? What happened to elegance. What truly was the price they paid for the lives they lived. For there is always a price. Especially in fairy tales.”
Set in the dazzling world of the elite in 1950s and 1960s, meet the alluring socialite “Swans”: Babe Paley, Slim Keith, C.Z. Guest, Gloria Guinness, and Pamela Churchill-- New York society.
Babe Paley, the stunningly beautiful socialite befriends literary Truman Capote and introduces him to her friends. Gaining insights into the lives of Manhattan’s elite and influential –their secrets, scandals, and hidden desires. Truman Capote soon became known as the darling of an inner circle he called his "swans."
Babe is married to a high-profile husband, wife of CBS president William S. Paley, a beautiful home, wealthy, jewels, travel, and influence, social circles, and all which come with the lifestyle. However, she is lonely and wants love…. Truman is available.
Truman was obsessed not so much by money, as he was by many of those who have it. The stylish rich. Women delighted him, and he pleasured them in every way but one—the physical act of love. He is adored by the swans. They enjoyed his company, as much as he enjoyed theirs. He admired all of his swans, but the one who captured his head and heart was in some ways, the loveliest of all.
However, in 1975, the dear friends and Manhattan socialites discover the literary lion Truman Capote has betrayed them, revealing their dirtiest secrets, to the world in a story published to great fanfare in Esquire.
The latest issue had hit the stands, the cover profile picture of a fat and pasty-looking Truman Capote, the headline trumpeting the acclaimed author of, In Cold Blood’s newest, hotly anticipated short story. “La Cote Basque 1965,” it was called. The murder Capote had committed, by telling the stories he had told. Stories he had no right to tell. Stories they never should have told him in the first place.
Lunch at La Cote Basque was not for soul-searching. Now they are seeing their exclusive, privileged, envied set-eviscerated, skin flayed open, souls laid bare, ugliness, acknowledged. Secrets betrayed and lives destroyed. By the viper in their nest; the storyteller in their midst.
Now the four are trying to recall how the southern-fried bastard arrived here in the first place. The story of how Truman came to betray all his swans—one especially. The one they all loved. The one he loved.
I have always read in Vanity Fair and other writings: "Of all Truman’s writing, “La Côte Basque” is probably the one piece that can be called a tour de force: he has transformed a table in a Manhattan restaurant into a stage on which he has placed his own jet-set Vanity Fair." But Truman had more than literature in mind when he wrote “La Côte Basque.” He also used it to get back at some of his rich friends who, for one reason or another, had offended him over the years.
A fabulous account and reenactment –the author’s view of these mythological creatures. Best of all Benjamin outlines the fact and the fiction; where she took leeway and stretched the imaginations. A large portion was factual with some liberties-- expanding the emotions, motivations and intent.
What I absolutely LOVED was the author’s note. When a reader invests their time reading, blogging and reviewing—AND the time, research, and effort –heart and soul --an author pours into creating a novel---to learn what inspired a writing-- is always a special gift and an added bonus, to further enhance the overall reading experience. You always wonder the why, how, when? Why choose certain time periods to explore, or subjects?
I can envision Benjamin as a girl with her Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, drawing her into the world of glamour and sophistication. City lights. I had to laugh about the parent's view of city life and its dangers (sounded like mine). I enjoyed hearing her story, the beautiful images, clothes which were exquisite and unattainable. Fashion—fantasizing about the people and the places. Her passion and enthusiasm is reflective throughout the pages, as the characters come alive.
The spark-- there is always more to the story. A story within a story. Well-researched. Engrossing. Priceless! No one can re-tell it like storyteller, Melanie Benjamin.
Loved the Palm Beach portions (Oct 1975), of course; as C.Z. recalls Truman—when he stopped being Truman. The gay, gossipy little friend, arm candy, pocket change, was another creature entirely. A giant, a literary sentinel. His greatest achievement to his greatest failure.
A chic sophisticated front cover, beautifully packaged, compelling--exquisitely written, Deserving of 5 Swans. (5 Stars)
The Swans of Fifth Avenue is set in a glittering fairyland—Manhattan in the 1950s and 1960s. This is the Manhattan of The Plaza, Tiffany's, Bergdorf's; the playground of Truman Capote and his Swans.
Revisit the past, follow in the footsteps of The Swans with Melanie Benjamin.