Interesting look at Capote's fascination with the rich and famous

The Swans of Fifth Avenue: A Novel - Melanie Benjamin

I’ve long been fascinated by the brilliant mind of Truman Capote, both through his published literary work and through his personal appearances. I’ve always admired his intelligence.  I knew he lived a flamboyant life and hobnobbed with celebrities, but I had never been interested in that part of Capote.  When I first heard of this book, I was intrigued, though, especially as I wasn’t very familiar with the scandal associated with his short story, “La Cote Basque 1965”.


I was a bit put off at the beginning with Truman constantly falling all over the “swans” (socialites) and constantly telling them how beautiful they were.  But then I really got into the book and it was quite an interesting journey.  The author did a good job of portraying these real people and their privileged lives and the price they sometimes paid for it.  She also was able to aptly show Capote’s fascination with the rich and famous and his contempt for them. For those of you who are not familiar with the actual story of these people and their relationships, I won’t go into any details.


I do believe the author did her research and consistently kept true to what is known to be fact about these people during this time period. I’ve been discouraged with some of the historical novels involving real people that I’ve recently read that seemed to be trending towards being filled with imagination and little factual basis.  That’s not the case with this book.   Plus the author was very clear in her comments after the book about what was true and what wasn't, which I found to be very helpful and aboveboard. 


Even though there’s a lot of emphasis on the lives of the rich and privileged and that can all be quite grating and boring to read, I think the author pulls it all together towards the end when things start to fall apart in those perfect worlds. This certainly isn’t a literary work on the caliber of Capote’s work but it’s entertaining.  It will spike your interest in these people and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be hitting the internet numerous times throughout the reading of the book to look for more information about Capote’s swans.


This book was given to me by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.