Monday, February 1, 2016

Julie's Review: The Swans of Fifth Avenue

Author: Melanie Benjamin
Series: None
Publication Date: January 26,2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 368
Obtained: friend
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.75/5
Bottom Line: Illuminating look at New York society from the 1960s
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Library
Summary:  The New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator’s Wife returns with a triumphant new novel about New York’s “Swans” of the 1950s—and the scandalous, headline-making, and enthralling friendship between literary legend Truman Capote and peerless socialite Babe Paley. Of all the glamorous stars of New York high society, none blazes brighter than Babe Paley. Her flawless face regularly graces the pages of Vogue, and she is celebrated and adored for her ineffable style and exquisite taste, especially among her friends—the alluring socialite Swans Slim Keith, C. Z. Guest, Gloria Guinness, and Pamela Churchill. By all appearances, Babe has it all: money, beauty, glamour, jewels, influential friends, a prestigious husband, and gorgeous homes. But beneath this elegantly composed exterior dwells a passionate woman—a woman desperately longing for true love and connection. Enter Truman Capote. This diminutive golden-haired genius with a larger-than-life personality explodes onto the scene, setting Babe and her circle of Swans aflutter. Through Babe, Truman gains an unlikely entrée into the enviable lives of Manhattan’s elite, along with unparalleled access to the scandal and gossip of Babe’s powerful circle. Sure of the loyalty of the man she calls “True Heart,” Babe never imagines the destruction Truman will leave in his wake. But once a storyteller, always a storyteller—even when the stories aren’t his to tell. Truman’s fame is at its peak when such notable celebrities as Frank and Mia Sinatra, Lauren Bacall, and Rose Kennedy converge on his glittering Black and White Ball. But all too soon, he’ll ignite a literary scandal whose repercussions echo through the years. The Swans of Fifth Avenue will seduce and startle readers as it opens the door onto one of America’s most sumptuous eras.

Review: The Swans of Fifth Avenue is a story about the infamous rich of the New York society scene in the 60's and 70's. It is a peek into the world that few of us know and understand. Frankly, for this reader, hope to never understand. There was no depth to these women and they were so desperate for any real connection they never once thought that Truman would use them.

Truman himself is pretty despicable, even if his writing is genius. He's dark inside and it's only a matter of time before it seeps out to his exterior. His is so focused on fame and appearances that he loses sight of what might matter most in the end. He wants fame at any cost and in the end it cost him everything.

Babe Paley and the rest of the "Swans" are beautiful and skilled at being just that, beautiful. They are searching for something outside of the protective bubble, they don't see the wolf in sheep's clothing coming after them.  Babe, the most revered of the "swans" is perhaps the loneliest. Her marriage is strictly for the newspapers. She has no connection to her children, because they were all apart of the show as well. Her husband, is a cad. He can't keep it in his pants and really doesn't care how it affects his wife. Babe buries her self in the proverbial sand. Even if one of his affairs is with someone you would consider her closest friend.

While I loved how Melanie Benjamin told the story, the story itself didn't woo me. Maybe it was the fact that it was rich people problems or the fact that these women just didn't seem real to me. Their problems were worrying about what to wear to the next gala and where to lunch to be seen.  It is obvious that this is a passion project for her and the amount of research that went into the background of her story.

I have a friend who will be getting this book because she loves this time period in New York society. I can't wait to get her opinion on it.



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