Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
First Published: 1958
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Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a brilliant glimmer of the excitement of 40’s New York. Holly Golightly – brashly beautiful with a slim black dress, a mysterious past and dark glasses over varicoloured eyes – entrances all the men she meets, including the young writer living above her, though her recklessness may yet catch up with her.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s is one of – if not my absolute – my favourite short stories. We became acquainted during my Audrey Hepburn phase – I picked up the book after watching the film adaptation, and was quite taken aback by how different the two were. Set in 1940s New York, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is the story of the friendship between an unnamed narrator and Holly Golightly. Holly is a mystery to everyone who knows her – she appears to be a socialite, and gets by with money and gifts from wealthy young men.
At its core, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a character study. Holly is incredibly flawed; someone who is desperate to shake off her past and reinvent herself. You can never really get a fix on who she is – she constantly shifts between being cruel and kind, generosity and self-absorption – and in doing so you share the frustrations of those around her. She doesn’t want to be weighted down by connections or feelings. There’s one moment where her agent tells the narrator that Holly is a phony, but a real phony, because she believes the stories she tells.
Capote’s prose is… extraordinary. Every time I read, I’m struck by how lyrical it is, how easily Capote seems to be able to bring his story to life. You can almost smell Holly’s perfume and hear the cadence of her voice. This is one of the few stories where I will find myself deliberately going back to read lines again, savouring them as I go. My only complaint is that this book is too short – I’m always left wanting more.
Please note: this review originally appeared on my blog, What Kim Read Next. It has been reformatted and edited.