Steven Godin's Reviews > Breakfast at Tiffany's

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
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really liked it
bookshelves: america, fiction

Attempted to read in my teens, didn't do anything for me. Twenty-five years later, and now more literary adept, gave it another go. With much better results. Boy oh boy, could he write!.

It's New York in the 1940s, where the martinis flow from cocktail hour till breakfast at Tiffany's. And nice girls don't, except, of course, Holly Golightly. Pursued by Mafia gangsters and playboy millionaires, Holly is a fragile eyeful of tawny hair and turned-up nose, a heart-breaker, a perplexer, a traveller, a tease. She is irrepressibly 'top banana in the shock department', and one of the shining flowers of American fiction.

Holly is a petite little bundle of scandal in World War II New York society. She works her way through various characters, and any other men who can pay her tab. The narrator, an aspiring Capote-like writer, is her neighbor in their trendy-ish NYC apartment building. He is witness to her parade of gentlemen callers, and as he befriends her and falls in and out of love with her, bears witness to her dramas and the slowly revealed facets of her character and history.

The dialog in Breakfast at Tiffany's is snappy and moves along nicely, very much of the era, but it still sounds almost contemporary in tone if not in verbiage. Holly loves easily and leaves easily. She is easily angered and quick to forgive. She buys expensive gifts on a whim, expects to be treated to expensive things regularly. Eventually we find out where she's really from and how she became Manhattan's Girl About Town. Then she gets in some legal trouble and goes on the lam, leaving the narrator to pine wistfully over her postcards from Brazil or wherever she's fled to.

It's a cute, almost whimsical novel, and was probably much more scandalous when it was written. Neither the author nor the narrator ever come out and say that Holly is a lady of the night, but it's heavily implied. At best, she lives a sugar daddy lifestyle. Today her behavior would barely raise an eyebrow in Manhattan, but in the 40s, when it was written, such a female protagonist was more shocking.

Capote clearly wrote of his central characters with a big heart, of which there is also an echoing bittersweet sadness. It took little time at all to get into the story, which is sizewise of the short novel/lengthy novella mold. Doable in one or two sittings. A worthy read for sure. 4/5
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
June 10, 2018 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-14 of 14 (14 new)

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message 1: by Pamela (new)

Pamela Nice review Steven. Loved both book & film!


John T Couldn't quite believe this was the same guy who wrote "In Cold Blood".


Steven Godin Pamela wrote: "Nice review Steven. Loved both book & film!"

Yep, me too! Although the film probably edged it because of a certain leading lady.


message 4: by Katia (new)

Katia N Wonderful review, Steven! Made me want to read it straight away.


message 5: by Fede (new) - added it

Fede Oh my... I couldn't resist: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=68q-kW1...


Steven Godin Fede wrote: "Oh my... I couldn't resist: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=68q-kW1..."

Thanks Fede, that's just about made my day!


Steven Godin Katia wrote: "Wonderful review, Steven! Made me want to read it straight away."

Thanks Katia.


message 8: by Genry Ai (new)

Genry Ai Watched the film, didn't do anything for me...Never thought I d give the book a go but your review reminds me to be open minded:)


Steven Godin Genry Ai wrote: "Watched the film, didn't do anything for me...Never thought I d give the book a go but your review reminds me to be open minded:)"

I prefer older films, but that's just me. It's certainly no masterpiece, but Audrey Hepburn just lights up the screen.


message 10: by Genry Ai (new)

Genry Ai Very true Steven, she certainly was the reason that I watched the film. I remember seeing somewhere that Marilyn Monroe was chosen initially for the role but she couldn't make it in the end.


message 11: by Peter (new) - added it

Peter Great review and he was a brilliant talent. Have you read the book Swan Song? It's about the serialisation of Truman Capote's final book "Answered Prayers" which was an exposé of his rich and powerful female friends and his ultimate fall from grace.


Steven Godin Peter wrote: "Great review and he was a brilliant talent. Have you read the book Swan Song? It's about the serialisation of Truman Capote's final book "Answered Prayers" which was an exposé of his rich and power..."

Unfortunately not Peter, but thanks for bringing it to my attention.


message 13: by Dolors (new)

Dolors You give me plenty of reasons to read this one, and to re-read the ones I dismissed in my late teens/early twenties!


Steven Godin Dolors wrote: "You give me plenty of reasons to read this one, and to re-read the ones I dismissed in my late teens/early twenties!"

To be honest. I wasn't a big Capote fan, and hadn't read hardly anything of his before. I have been egged on to read this for ages by so many people. It was impossible to read without the glorious figure of Audrey Hepburn flowing through my mind.
Made it all the better.


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