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Saturday, January 30, 2016

(11)The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin

Babe Paley is the pure definition of glamour and sophistication.   Her position as the wife of a studio executive allows her to rule  Manhattan society with grace and elegance.  Her group of friends have leisurely lunches and gossip about who is wearing what and who's husband is cheating on them. The perfect accessory for The Swans of Fifth Avenue is the hottest thing in the literary world , Truman Capote.  Truman is quite at ease with Babe and the Swans, the kind of accessory they just adore.  Their husbands even adore Truman, because he lets them off of the hook for dancing and other cultural events they would rather just skip.  It really is a win - win situation.  Babe and Truman are practically inseparable and she feels closer to him than her own husband.  What Babe doesn't realize is that for all of Truman's charisma and charm, he is at his heart a writer.  A writer who is always observing and filing away information to use at a later date.   When Truman publishes a thinly veiled fictional tale in Esquire it brings down the carefully crafted world of Babe and her friends.  The betrayal is crushing for Babe for she trusted Truman more than anybody else.  Will she be able to forgive the imp for his transgressions?  Will the Swans of Fifth Avenue survive the scandal?

I always want to enjoy literary fiction, such as The Swans of Fifth Avenue, but I have such a hard time getting into them.  It takes time to get lost in the world of Babe Paley and Truman Capote, so if you can't sit down and devote some time with this book, be prepared.  I found myself enjoying the book more when I could read it for more than fifteen minutes at a time.   Having said that, I love books that fictionalize true events, such Truman Capote in Manhattan.  He was such a unique character, er I mean person.  He was able to captivate anybody who came into contact with him, both male and female.   The Swans of Fifth Avenue is primarily set in the time around when In Cold Blood was published and I hate to admit that I have not read it.  But now I am more intrigued than ever.   I was even a bit heartbroken myself, the way things turned out.  

Bottom line - The Swans of Fifth Avenue is a magical literary novel about a socialite and her enchanting literary friend.  The kind of novel that will transport you to another time and another place.  And isn't that what reading is supposed to do?