When I heard that Melanie Benjamin had a new book coming out I almost swooned. No kidding. And then I became nervous because I loved THE AVIATOR’S WIFE. And wondered if she could do it again. Well, folks, I am here to tell you that she sure can, and, yes, she did!!!
Truman Capote is the focal point of the novel. He’s surrounded by a gaggle of high society girls like never seen before or since. Some of you will recognize the names. It’s no secret. And most of this truly happened.
The novel begins with a scene in a famous restaurant in NYC called La Côte Basque. A group of very famous high society women are lunching and discussing the latest scandal. They’re madder than hell because they’ve been betrayed by someone they had taken under their wings and confided their most precious and personal thoughts and dreams. What had he done? Well, someone had been killed, to start with!
Back and forth in time we go from the fifties to the mid-eighties. From the time Truman Capote arrived on the NYC social scene, until the time he was no more. This is not an era I’ve read much about. I remember very little. But I loved reading about all this.
Who was Truman Capote. If you are reading this book, I figure you have some idea. He was a literary sensation in the sixties. He wrote BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S and IN COLD BLOOD. Both went on to become fabulously famous movies. But who was he really? A man who weaseled his way into high society through relationships with ultra- rich women. Women who were rich because of who they married, for the most part. Women who trusted him to the point of no return. One especially, Barbara Paley, better known as Babe, became closer to him than to her husband and children. People always said Babe and Truman were in love. Yes, you could say that: in every way except sexually. You see, Truman was a flagrant homosexual. But he had style. And great taste in women. Not so much in men.
Who were the swans? Nancy Gross, nicknamed Slim. Gloria Guinnes who they called La Guinness, Barbara CZ Guest, Pamela Churchill, and Babe Paley. These glamorous women paid court to the little man who got too big for his britches. They showered him with affection and invited him inside their private boudoirs. Most of them told him, well, just everything. Never, ever, did they believe he would rat them out.
Truman became so close to Babe that he even became a confidante of her husband, Bill. Truman was easy to be around. He was fun. He always had THE best stories. He was a true gossip hound, and one thing the swans loved a lot was gossip. He once bragged, ” I can break up anybody in New York I want to.”
When I flipped the last page, I immediately flew to the computer. I pulled up pictures of the “swans” and of Truman as a young man and then older and worn out. I find it fascinating how the super-rich lived. And the way the wives doted on the husbands to the point of ad nauseam . Really. Babe Paley would get up before dawn and do her make up so her husband would never see her with a naked face. And she catered to his every whim. Even that did not keep him faithful. No wonder Babe fell for Truman, someone she truly loved and knew he loved her as well. Even sans the sex.
Truman’s fame began to wane, then plummeted after IN COLD BLOOD. He was no longer able to write. And he needed to. And then he came up with the only viable idea he had in him. It turned out to be his ruination.
I could go on and on as you can tell. But I need to wrap this up. You will want to read all this for yourselves. The bottom line is that this fabulous story is crammed with gossip, murder, obsession and betrayal. You are going to love it!! Benjamin has done her homework and then some.
My review copy came from Random House publishers. I am so grateful! I rate this one five star.***** This is truly an OMG!