I love love, love, love, love, when authors fictionalize real events and add stories and color to historical happenings. The Swans of Fifth Avenue is just that, a fictionalized account of glamorous society set in New York in the 1960’s. The story focuses on the friendship between Truman Capote and the women he called his “Swans”, chiefly Babe Paley. Babe, married to the powerful founder of CBS, William Paley, was the queen of the New York socialites, renowned for her flawless style and taste. She and her friends, including Slim Keith, Gloria Guinness and Pamela Churchill, lived the incredibly privileged life of society women with rich and prestigious husbands.
There is plenty of drama, backbiting, and scandals just with the women alone, but when they become friends with Truman Capote, things escalate quickly. At this time, Capote is a literary darling just starting to make his mark on the publishing world, and becoming friends with these women opens doors to him that he never thought possible. And in return for that access and the loyalty this women give him, he betrays them by telling their secrets in the worst possible way. For some reason no one told these women a basic truth… never trust a writer with your stories. This is why no one tells me anything anymore.
This book does an incredible job of bringing the timeframe alive. There is so much drama and betrayal that I was constantly running to look things up in Wikipedia and to Google image search all of them, this book really drew me in and kept me entertained. I have always been fascinated with Truman Capote for some reason I can’t really explain. Last year I finally screwed up enough courage to read In Cold Blood and I can honestly tell you I did not sleep for a week, it was that terrifying. I can only imagine how he would describe today’s current events. So, if you’re looking for a fun read for summer, give The Swans of Fifth Avenue a try.