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Swan Song

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  2,908 ratings  ·  303 reviews
Over countless martini-soaked Manhattan lunches, they shared their deepest secrets and greatest fears. On exclusive yachts sailing the Mediterranean, on private jets streaming towards Jamaica, on Yucatán beaches in secluded bays, they gossiped about sex, power, money, love and fame. They never imagined he would betray them so absolutely.

In the autumn of 1975, after two dec
Paperback, 480 pages
Published June 14th 2018 by Hutchinson
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Average rating 3.71  · 
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Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
The author writes a historical piece of fiction based on the life of Truman Capote, writer of Breakfast at Tiffany's and In Cold Blood. It is a blend of fact and fiction, and echoes the style and concept of In Cold Blood. Capote had a difficult childhood that he deeply resented, only to leave it far behind as he comes to gain entry to the circles of the powerful, wealthy and famous, admitted to their close inner circles, privy to their deepest secrets. The author drops a litany of famous names a ...more
I am in two minds about this book: while I thought there were moments of brilliance, overall I found it indulgent, tedious, and way too long. Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcotts sets out to retell Truman Capote’s final years from the perspectives of his ‘Swans’, high society ladies he first befriended and then betrayed.

The strength of this book for me was hands-down the narrative choice to tell the story from a we-perspective, reminiscent of Greek choruses. As such she creates a cacophony of voices and
May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Oh Truheart. You little motherfucker. What have you done?! That’s before she reads the worst of it … When she gets to the bloodstained sheets, she fumbles for the phone. Babe answers on the first ring. ‘Well?’ ‘I feel like I just got punched in the gut.’ ‘Yes, but what did you think …?’ ‘Pure garbage. Bitchy, catty trash,’ Slim says unequivocally. She tries to sound dismissive, but they know that it is bigger than that. It’s a declaration of war.”

Truman Capote after 20 years of infusi
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, 2019-read
Nominated for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2019
This novel is based on a fascinating real-life story, but I was bored out of my mind reading it: After spending years with the rich and the famous, writer Truman Capote published a text called "La Côte Basque 1965" in an issue of Esquire magazine in 1975, which was intended to be part of his new novel "Answered Prayers" (the unfinished book was then published posthumously in 1986). In it, Capote spills the secrets of some of his high society friend
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Story of Truman Capote famous for being an American writer who wrote “Breakfast At Tiffany’s and “ Cold Blood”

Truman has a difficult childhood that he manages to leave behind when he becomes famous and surrounds himself with beautiful women who he calls “ his swans” Everybody loves Truman who loves to gossip about people and is always making them laugh. They feel comfortable around him sharing their own secrets over copious amounts of alcohol.

When Truman hosts a black and white ball his inn
Andrew Smith
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I've heard so much about Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, a book about the murder of a Kansas family, but I've yet to track down a copy. It's his version of a true life event and by all accounts it's a masterpiece. Similarly, I've seen the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s (who hasn't!) yet I've so far neglected to seek out a copy of Capote’s novella, on which it’s based. But when I was granted the opportunity to read this book, telling of the life of the man himself, I jumped at the opportunity to lear ...more
Much like Swan Song's subject, Truman Capote, Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott's novel is at times charming, at times vicious, and at times insufferable. Despite the fact that it took me over a month to get through this and I was complaining about it for a lot of that time, Swan Song actually does have a lot to recommend it. Its first person plural narration is particularly well done as Greenberg-Jephcott attempts to reclaim the voices of the women whose social lives Truman Capote effectively destroy ...more
Mar 15, 2019 marked it as did-not-finish
Dnf @ 20%. Too coquettish for me and the writing is trying too hard. Might pick it back up if it makes the shortlist (surely hope it doesn't) but right now, just not in the mood.

Too many other good books I would rather be reading!
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
”You'll say we've got nothing in common, No common ground to start from …
And I said, "What about Breakfast at Tiffany's?"
She said, "I think I remember the film
And I said, "Well, that's the one thing we've got"

With thanks to “Deep Blue Something”

I read this book (and persisted with it when I might otherwise long since have abandoned it) due to its longlisting for the 2019 Women’s Prize.

The book is a fictionalised biography of Truman Capote.

As my opening quote implies that immediately gave
Paula Bardell-Hedley
Mar 20, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Paula by: NetGalley.
“A boy pampered and indulged well into middle age, courtesy of his unquestioned genius.”
The iconic American author, Truman Capote is remembered best for penning such literary classics as Breakfast at Tiffany's and In Cold Blood – the latter often held to be a watershed in popular culture. He had a flair for self publicity and, throughout the 1960s, was often photographed hobnobbing with the rich and famous in fashionable nightspots. Even as his writing career declined in the followin
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf


Had to DNF after finishing about half of this book unfortunately.

Let's be clear. Truman Capote's decision to base his 1975 Esquire stories and eventual book on the confidentially told stories of his high society friends was despicable, a gross broach of friendship but also ethically wrong. To tell the story of teose violated women, a revenge fantasy of sort, seemed enticing. And for many, this kind of salacious gossip of th
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is part a fictional biography and part the biography of a work, in progress for over twenty years; “Answered Prayers.” Capote befriended the rich and famous and delighted in their company and their confidences. Even as a child, Capote is shown as always watching, listening and absorbing the conversations of the adults around him. His closest childhood friend, the ‘to be famous in the future,’ Nellie Harper Lee, may have been able to warn his future Swans, after Truman inserted her mother’s ...more
Eric Anderson
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’ve always had very conflicted feelings about Truman Capote. This is the author who wrote the achingly beautiful autobiographical short story ‘A Christmas Memory’ which my cousin read to an enraptured audience every year at his annual Christmas party. And, of course, he penned the novella ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ whose whiff of glamour surrounding Holly Golightly’s tale of self-creation made the teenage me desperate to move to a city. But Capote was also the man who spat venom about countless f ...more
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
In November 1965, "La Cote Basque", a chapter from Truman Capote's work-in-progress, Answered Prayers - The Unfinished Novel, was published in Esquire magazine. It was a thinly veiled and very unflattering expose of the lives of Truman's circle of society friends. It's publication led to those friends deserting Truman and, in turn, to his gradual decline until he eventually died in 1984.

Swan Song is the fictionalised re-imagining of the story of that publication and subsequent decline, adopting
Callum McLaughlin
Apr 07, 2019 rated it did not like it
I should preface this review by making one thing clear: I always knew this book wasn’t going to be my cup of tea. Reading the blurb, and various reviews, it didn’t appeal to my bookish tastes at all. Normally, I would have steered clear. Alas, as part of my efforts to read the entire Women’s Prize longlist, it was a box that needed to be ticked. In that sense, I don’t doubt it will work considerably better in the hands of other readers.

The story is a fictionalised account of the life of Truman C
May 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Tru dat.

Can a novel be simultaneously frenetic and yet long drawn out? I found Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott’s take on Truman Capote to be an overly fractured and somewhat frustrating read. Capote’s swan song – he sold the revelatory chapters from his long-awaited book ‘Answered Prayers’ to Esquire magazine – angered his coterie of female friends and brought the curtain down on an illustrious if erratic writing career. (Capote created the character of Holly Golightly for ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ a
Roman Clodia
Frenetically fast-paced, this is what Capote himself would probably have termed 'fictional non-fiction': part oblique biography, part history of the birth of Capote's book 'Answered Prayers', part evocation of historical moments which fed our modern obsession with celebrity. The pages are filled with iconic names: Jackie Kennedy and her sister Lee Radziwill ('Radzilla'), Gore Vidal, Mick Jagger, Cecil Beaton, Paul Bowles - but in lots of ways they are functions of their names and statuses rather ...more
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved it, loved it, loved it. I love that it's a book that scorns the very act it's performing. Beautiful elegance of writing about a very glamorous time - even though the glamour is picked apart a bit. Very sympathetic and scathing but subtle in both. ...more
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars

Unfortunately, this was just a little more than okay for me.

Swan Song is the story of Truman Capote's unfinished novel Answered Prayers and how it cost him his social status and friends. Kelleight Greenberg-Jephcott spent 10 years researching Swan Song and I'm afraid this made it difficult for her to let go of the many pieces of information she must have accumulated during that time.

While Swan Song started out promising with its at times dream-like narrative and the chorus of swans so
Paul Fulcher
Apr 09, 2019 rated it did not like it
You've always lived a life of pretense, not a real life-- a simulated existence, not a genuine existence. Everything about you, everything you are, has always been pretense, never genuine, never real.
The Woodcutters, Thomas Bernhard

Swan Song, centered around an author called Truman, is apparently based on a real-life story, although I felt rather as one character did in the novel when told Truman had been invited to his house:

‘Bill . . . that’s Truman!’
Bill, blindsided, he craned his head to st
Viv JM
I read this thanks to its inclusion on the Women's Prize for Fiction longlist. It's probably not something I would have picked up otherwise. It was well written, well researched and very readable but just not really a subject matter - the lives of obnoxious, rich socialites - that grabs me, and I found it difficult to muster much enthusiasm for working out which "swan" was which as they all merged together in their universal shallowness and general awfulness. ...more
Jul 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love Truman Capote's writing - especially In Cold Blood which was a groundbreaking book for its blend of fact and vivifying imagined narrative. Greenberg-Jephcott takes Capote's narrative style one step further by imagining Capote's wealthy clique of friends as a Greek chorus narrating his betrayal. Caught up in the delusion that emulating Proust's memories of the Parisian elite by sharing titillating New York high society secrets told to him by his closest confidants he would be his master wo ...more
Cassidy (Reminders of the Changing Time)
Everyone has heard of Truman Capote and everyone has heard of his fall from grace. Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott turns an examination of his life and the choices that he made into a non-fiction novel that I can imagine that Capote himself would have enjoyed. It is honest and a little biting, evoking a time in old Hollywood that most of us can only dream of.
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Novel set mainly in MANHATTAN (the life and loves of Truman Capote)

Who was Truman Capote? We all know the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s but who really has engaged with the writer of the novella on which the film was based? He then went on to publish In Cold Blood which made him a national celebrity. Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott has chosen to set him centre stage and build a fictional-factual story of his associations with the 6 Swans – six socialites and eminent women, strong yet fragile and v
Apr 04, 2019 rated it liked it
This was far, far too long. It was difficult to care for each of the women's story, considering they're all the same brand of glamour, whiteness, thinness and wealth. I completely understand why Truman would call them The Swans... I guess he too couldn't remember who was who.

This was very nicely written, and the author is certainly talented. I can see this being a 5 star book... if it wasn't so very slow. I'd have much preferred to have the focus be on two or three of the women (and Truman, of
Aug 05, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2019
I'm not going to finish reading this novel. There are wonderful novels waiting to be read and this isn't one of them. I'm in my mid-30s and time is running out.

What is this novel trying to do? What points is it trying to make? I don't know.

Why did the author decide to include awful homophobic language? It's so unpalatable! There seems to be no good reason for it and it feels offensive. It definitely doesn't add anything to what is already a cumbersome narrative voice.

The first 50 pages of the
The writing is lush, lovely and perfectly fitting for the story and the people in it. The way the characters are written when hurt and their reactions to one another were so well done and fascinating. I love that every character is written both mockingly and admiringly at the same time. The only thing that kept me from being fully engaged is that I just don't love the gossip, shallow relationships and life style of the high society. Also, the ending wasn't as poignant as I expected from the rest ...more
A novel that manages to be both furiously frantic and far, far too long. I loved the style, the sharp and inventive prose, along with the interesting narrative choice of first-person plural, all of Truman's 'swans'. Babe and CZ's stories and voices were by far my favourite and in my opinion the most compelling, while the rest all began to merge. Every theme and idea was repeated endlessly and in a messy, convoluted timeline, so the book soon began to overstay its welcome. A shame, because when i ...more
Mar 22, 2019 rated it liked it
This was snarky fun glamour society reading but also tragic and intimate. Capote is well rendered but it’s his swans who steal the show – the women whose stories and lives he mined and exploited for his writing. The swans as a collective chorus narrate this work of fiction based on fact and I loved them and loathed them, though I mostly loved them. Highly entertaining reading, skilled writing.
Oct 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, fiction
He seduced us all with his words – and Truman knows full well the power of words. They’re both armour and weapon, the one thing he’s sure of. They alone have never failed him, their lyricism hinting at the beauty trapped within his stunted body, not to mention his conflicted soul.

In her debut novel, Swan Song, Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott reimagines the decline of Truman Capote due to the backlash that followed the publication of Capote’s infamous short story La Côte Basque 1965 in the Novemb
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The Mookse and th...: 2019 WP Longlist - Swan Song 19 66 Jun 01, 2019 08:41AM  

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Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott was born and raised in Houston, Texas, before coming to call Los Angeles and London her adopted homes. She is a graduate of UEA’s Creative Writing MA course and was the winner of the Bridport Prize Peggy Chapman-Andrews Award. Swan Song is her first novel.

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