The Swans of Fifth Avenue
By Melanie Benjamin
ARC e-book, 368 pages (hardcover)
2016, Random House
Expected Publication Date: January 26, 2016
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions in this post are my own.
Babe Paley is one of many famous faces living in New York in the 1950s. A member of high society, she has a rich husband, famous friends, and is a fashion icon to one and all…on the outside at least. But inside Babe struggles with the constant need to appear perfect and longs for a true friend, someone she can be honest with. Enter Truman Capote – a strange, hyperactive, flamboyant spark among the cool, glittering elite of society. Babe and Truman become closer than she’d ever imagined, but even that friendship comes with a price.
I love Benjamin’s other works and was very excited to receive a digital copy of Swans – I was not disappointed. Benjamin is an expert in character studies and I felt like Babe and Truman (and the rest of the cast) were jumping off the pages to perform for me. I know nothing about Capote – other than that he’s a famous writer – and I’d never heard of Babe prior to reading this book, but that didn’t bother me. I was engrossed from page one and entranced by how hard Babe worked to create her image. It’s always interesting to me to read about the other side of fame and fortune, and the price people pay emotionally to appear fabulous and be envied by the general public. The characters were intriguing, the plot moved at a nice pace and while I realize the conversations were mostly made up, according to Benjamin’s afterward, she did her best to stick to the real-life events.
I suppose I would class this as historical fiction and if you enjoy that and character-driven novels, I would suggest you pick up this book (or really, any of Benjamin’s novels).