"The Swans of Fifth Avenue", by Melanie Benjamin

The Swans of Fifth Avenue: A Novel - Melanie Benjamin

This is a fictionalized account about the literary legend Truman Capote and the glamorous star and socialite, Babe Paley. In the 50’s they were the talk of the town and hot stuff of tabloid. Although Babe was married to CBS titan Bill Paley she soon made the flamboyant Truman her favorite on lunch date and as a weekend guess. “”The Swans of Fifth Avenue” investigates the bonds that flourish between these two disparate pairs.

In alternating chapters, Truman and Babe (Bobolink) offer their versions of their friendship and in a wandering narrative we hear snippets of conversation that captures the era’s juiciest scandals and wildest extravagances. A whole cast of characters brings back to life a bygone world… predominant roles were peppered by alluring socialites: Slim Keith, C.Z. Guest, Gloria Guinness and Pamela Churchill. The most interesting aspect of this trip back in time is the unusual friendship between Bobolink and the openly gay writer. Although I did find reading this fiction to be rather slow and it couldn’t keep my attention captive all the time I nevertheless would say that Ms. Benjamin’s writing is flawless in her descriptions of vintage jewellery, décor, clothes etc. …the repetitiveness becomes fast boring. This is the life of the rich and famous… Truman befriending socialites then betraying them for a hot topic….hum they can keep it.

I had a hard time with this story and had to look up other resources to find out if the characters where fictional or real and how far the author’s imagination went. Although at the end of the novel we have tidbits of information that clarified some aspects.

Not my favourite Melanie Benjamin’s novel.