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The Swans of Fifth Avenue: A Novel Paperback – October 25, 2016
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People’s Book of the Week • USA Today’s #1 “New and Noteworthy” Book • Entertainment Weekly’s Must List • LibraryReads Top Ten Pick
“Exceptional storytelling . . . teeming with scandal, gossip and excitement.”—Harper’s Bazaar
“This moving fictionalization brings the whole cast of characters back to vivid life. Gossipy and fun, it’s also a nuanced look at the beauty and cruelty of a rarefied, bygone world.”—People
“The era and the sordid details come back to life in this jewel of a novel.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
“Shamelessly gossipy . . . a catty, juicy read that’s like a three-martini lunch.”—USA Today
“[Captures] the mesmerizing sparkle and scandal of New York high society in the 1950s.”—Chicago Tribune
“Tantalizing . . . Readers will fall into a world of glitz, glamour and the exciting life of the rich and famous. The details and conversations are so rich, you may forget you're reading a novel.”—Associated Press
“Highly entertaining.”—The Washington Post
“Take Gossip Girl and move it to the 50s.”—theSkimm
“[Melanie] Benjamin has given us a compelling look at an American icon, a talented yet vulnerable man, and the complex woman he loved in his own distinctive way.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“The strange and fascinating relationship between Truman Capote and his ‘swans’ is wonderfully reimagined in this engrossing novel. It’s a credit to Benjamin that we end up caring so much for these women of power, grace, and beauty—and for Capote, too.”—Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants
“A delicious tale . . . Melanie Benjamin has turned Truman Capote’s greatest scandal into your next must-read book-club selection.”—Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
“Reading The Swans of Fifth Avenue is like being ushered into a party where you’re offered champagne and fed the sumptuous secrets of New York’s elite—without having to pay the price afterward. The swans are outmatched only by the elegance of Melanie Benjamin’s prose—captivatingly earnest and sophisticated.”—Vanessa Diffenbaugh, New York Times bestselling author of The Language of Flowers
“Benjamin convincingly portrays a large cast of colorful historical figures while crafting a compelling, gossipy narrative with rich emotional depth.”—Library Journal
“The beautiful people of the fifties and sixties glitter in this riveting tale of betrayal and greed. . . . Irresistible, astonishing, and told with verve . . . not to be missed.”—Lynn Cullen, bestselling author of Mrs. Poe
“The season’s must-read guilty pleasure, a delicious amalgam of wit, gossip, beauty, and scandal, meticulously researched and cleverly imagined . . . From Truman Capote’s devious charm to Babe Paley’s tragic glamour, Melanie Benjamin conjures, in vivid detail, a lost world.”—Michael Callahan, author of Searching for Grace Kelly
“A deliciously spiky novel of love and betrayal.”—Alex George, author of A Good American
“Heart-rending . . . at once gossipy, intimate, poignant, and astonishingly perceptive.”—Robin Oliveira, bestselling author of I Always Loved You
“A compulsively readable tale of friendship, betrayal, tragedy, and unconventional love.”—Renée Rosen, bestselling author of What the Lady Wants
“A beautifully written story of friendship, love, and betrayal, The Swans of Fifth Avenue is a fascinating look at a gossipy, glamorous world filled with brilliant and vulnerable people. Every moment of triumph and tragedy is riveting, and Melanie Benjamin makes this gilded world come alive in a funny and moving novel that captivates from the first page to the last.”—Edward Kelsey Moore, New York Times bestselling author of The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Melanie Benjamin is the New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator’s Wife, The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb, and Alice I Have Been. Benjamin lives in Chicago, where she is at work on her next historical novel.
From the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
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For many years, Truman Capote ingratiated himself into the lives of these women, who loved and adored him and who trusted him with all of their many secrets and private circumstances. His later downward spiral following years of obsessive focus on In Cold Blood, a time that included enough alcohol and drugs to choke a horse, resulted in his somewhat unethical betrayal of the Swans right there on the pages of Esquire, for all the world to see.
Truman was especially close to Barbara "Babe" Paley, the glamorous wife of CBS executive, Bill Paley, and much of this novel has to do with this central relationship. In a way, Truman and Babe were soulmate friends who sincerely adored and understood each other's frailties. Truman was welcomed into Babe's life as well as the other ladies' lives, complete with a constant flow of invitations to their magnificent houses and yachts and gifts of extravagant luxuries. Even as a relatively young and unknown writer, he was accepted into influential circles, meeting people and celebrities he wouldn't have otherwise.
As his fame grew and his talent recognized, he changed. And not for the better. With an overindulgence of drugs and drink, he became unable to focus on another book the magnitude of In Cold Blood. Instead, he penned La Cote Basque 1965 (in 1975) and betrayed his beloved Babe and the rest of the Swans. The results were quite shattering for most of the group. As the Vanity Fair article states, he committed Social Suicide. Big time.
This novel is based on facts but does fill in some of the blanks with literary fiction, which includes a sufficient amount of juicy, catty, backstabbing dialogue. We learn a lot about Truman's personal life, his mother issues, his longing for fame and notoriety and his downward spiral into that Social Suicide. The funny thing is that when you think about this type of thing in today's media environment, the fallout would be minimal. Back then it was devastating.
I read this back to back with a small book of Truman Capote's early stories that is just being released. It was a nice companion, thinking about Truman's relationships and lifestyle.
Well written and researched.
I loved it almost as much as The Pilot's Wife by Benjamin also.
Benjamin does an excellent job of bringing these society Swans to life. She is sympathetic to Capote but clearly reports his betrayal and it's consequences.
I highly recommend this book for it's story, character development and fine writing.
The writing was very intimate and I felt real emotions for Paley and Capote as well Slim. But the other swans were a bit too under exposed. Still I stayed up all night to finish the book. I tried to have some sympathy for Truman but in the end I hated him for wasting his intellectual talents. Babe Paley, an out-date legend in her own time, did deserve the empathy Benjamin tried to elicit on her party.
Most recent customer reviews
It wa so bad that I did not finish it.