The Swans of Fifth Avenue : a novel / Melanie Benjamin.

Main Author: Benjamin, Melanie, 1962-
Published: New York : Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, [2016]
Edition: First edition.
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Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In 1975, a clique of Manhattan socialites discover that literary lion Truman Capote revealed their dirtiest laundry to the world in a story published to great fanfare in Esquire-a real-life event that inspires this novel. As the women (the metaphorical swans of the novel's title) face his perfidy, they attempt to untangle an intimacy with Capote that dates back to 1955. Though Marella Agnelli, C.Z. Guest, Gloria Guinness, Pamela Churchill Harriman, and Slim Keith all feel betrayed, it's style icon Babe Paley who suffers most. Unconventional, brilliant, and voraciously ambitious, Capote seems an unlikely confidante for a woman celebrated solely for marrying, living, and looking well, but the loneliness and insecurity the two both hide forges a deep bond. Babe trusts "True Heart" enough to reveal shameful secrets, from her false teeth to her powerful husband's sordid philandering; tragically, if predictably, Capote's desperation for writing fodder proves more powerful than love. Benjamin's (The Aviator's Wife) fact-based narrative captures the era's juiciest scandals and wildest extravagances, but readers expecting the sympathetic protagonists of her earlier books may be disappointed by the diffuse and chilly cast of characters here. With an unabashed delight in bitchy gossip and lavish lifestyles, the novel's themes are sober ones: the double-edged power of telling our stories, the ways we test and punish those we love, and the psychic cost of life lived by the mantra "appearance matters most." (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Review by Library Journal Review

Benjamin (The Aviator's Wife) here fictionalizes the relationship of writer Truman Capote with fashion icon Babe Paley. Through Babe, he meets other society women whom he calls his swans. He convinces Babe and her high-class friends that each is special and he is devoted to her. This does not stop him from using personal information and gossip gathered from each swan in his writing. When Esquire publishes his short story "La Cote Basque 1965," he is shunned by his upper-crust friends and begins the downward spiral that ultimately led to his death several years later. Cassandra Campbell brings Babe to life, and Paul Boehmer does the same for Truman, though having two narrators can be distracting as they have different vocal interpretations. VERDICT Recommended for fans of historic fiction, New York society, and Truman Capote. ["Benjamin convincingly portrays a large cast of colorful historical figures while crafting a compelling, gossipy narrative with rich emotional depth": LJ 9/1/15 starred review of the Delacorte hc.]-David Faucheux, -Lafayette, LA © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.