BOOK REVIEW: The Swans of Fifth Avenue, by Melanie Benjamin

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BOOK REVIEW: The Swans of Fifth Avenue, by Melanie BenjaminTitle: The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin
Published by Delacorte Press
Published: January 26th 2016
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 368
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
AmazonBook Depository
Goodreads

Melanie Benjamin’s The Swans of Fifth Avenue is a delightfully gossipy look into the lives of a handful of New York City socialites and Truman Capote from the 1950s to the 1970s. Admittedly, I knew nothing of Truman Capote’s life outside of the film Capote with Philip Seymour Hoffman, and even then details are a little bit fuzzy. I know he wrote In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany’s with a smattering of short stories, but other than that, I’m a bit lost. I think that helped me a bit with the novel, going into it without knowing much, because it helped shape that fairy tale sort of quality I found in it.

I really liked Babe, and I like that she found some companionship and love in her friendship with Capote. I liked the life Benjamin brought to each of the women Capote befriended. Parts of the novel were told through the eyes of each of these women, and each of their points-of-view added to an excellent character study. These sheltered, beautiful “swans” of New York trusted Truman Capote with their thoughts, ideas, and secrets, and he ultimately betrayed all of them, including Babe, his closest friend out of all of the swans. Capote’s insatiable desire for gossip and his inability to keep it to himself led to some serious consequences. I couldn’t help but see that the driving question behind the entire story is why does one friend betray another? What drives all of them to backstab and spread secrets and lies? I think, perhaps, if you have it all and believe you have nothing left to do with your lives because you’ve “accomplished everything,” what more can you do with your life? Maybe for all of them, in their sheltered lives, all they wanted to do was to create a little drama to distract them from their terrible husbands and other disappointing or awful aspects of their lives.

New York’s high society in the fifties and sixties seems so far gone, but it wasn’t, not really. Beyond the fancy apartments, jewels, all of the designer dresses and shoes, Melanie Benjamin showed us that beyond the perfect veneer, the rich and famous were human just like the rest of us, dealt with similar heartbreaks and dramas the rest of us see in day-to-day life, but we’re so far removed from their world that it seems like a perfect fairy tale to us.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue has made me want to read Capote’s work, especially the pieces he wrote about the Swans and has made me want to read more about this era, because it’s an era in which I’m entirely unfamiliar.

Thank you to Netgalley for a review copy!

Top Ten Tuesday; Spring 2016 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) features our Spring 2016 TBR! I chose the five books I have left to read from Netgalley and five books I chose out of my TBR tin! The first five are from my Netgalley dashboard. I want to get to that 80% threshold, and I’m going to do it this spring!

  1. The Swans of Fifth Avenue – Melanie Benjamin
  2. Love, Lies and Spies – Cindy Anstey
  3. Once Upon a Dream – Liz Braswell
  4. Grayling’s Song – Karen Cushman
  5. A Stolen Kiss – Kelsey Keating
  6. The Great Mortality – John Kelly
  7. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
  8. Blameless – Gail Carriger
  9. A Secret Atlas – Michael A. Stackpole
  10. Flappers – Judith MacKrell

I’m actually really pleased with the five I picked from my TBR tin! I have the Penguin Drop Caps copy of Jane Eyre to read (even if I’ve already read it, it’s time to read it again!), and I’m in the planning stages of writing something involving a young girl from the Twenties, so Flappers will fall into some of my research! I tried reading the first in Disney’s Twisted Tale series but didn’t like it, so I’m hoping I like Once Upon a Dream based on Sleeping Beauty!

What’s on your Spring 2016 TBR? Have you read any of these?