August 17, 2008

Breakfast at Tiffany's: A Review

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In the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's a phone call from an old friend prompts a writer to reminisce about Holly Golightly, a unique woman who lived in his building during WWII.

After seeing the movie, I couldn't help comparing the two. First, Holly is much more brash than the character Audrey Hepburn plays. She's ahead of her time. Her thoughts on lesbianism would have shocked movie goers in the early 60's. Also, the movie played up a romance between the writer and Holly. I never felt that there were romantic feelings between them while reading the book.

Holly is a complex character. She's brutally honest yet she's a liar, or as one character calls her, a phony but a real phony. She's loyal but will stab a friend in the back to have her way. I found myself charmed yet frustrated by this girl, much like the writer did. She surrounds herself with friends but keeps everyone at a distance. No one really knows her; who she is or where she came from. Her morals are questionable. Is she a prostitute? Maybe but by her own definition, no. But she does use men- older, richer men- to survive. Men who give her 'powder room money'.

Truman Capote's writing is beautiful, lyrical. It's a joy to read even though there is so much ugliness in this story. It's never really dark. That's real artistry.

Here's an interesting footnote: Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe for the part of Holly. I find it hard to imagine anyone else but Hepburn as Holly. She looked so good in the costumes.

Note: This was a library copy from 1958. The cover had been replaced and someone must have spilled a whole cup of tea on it and then tried to cover it up with some cheap perfume. Despite being gross, it added to the reading experience. It seemed appropriate for Holly.

Highly Recommended

16 comments :

  1. You know I've seen the movie countless times but you defnitely have me wanting to see if the library has a copy of this book for reading. Great review!

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  2. Audrey Hepburn was the perfect choice for Holly - I can't imagine anyone who had a more delicate touch.

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  3. I really need to read this. In Cold Blood was a great book, and I'd like to read more of his work. Too bad about the tea and perfume, but you'll always remember the book now. LOL.

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  4. I've never seen the movie and I had no clue it was based on a book. Interesting!

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  5. this book has been on my TBR shelf for the last four years, and somehow never makes it into the pile I'm reading. I'll have to make a more concentrated effort to get it there--thanks for the push!

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  6. Truman Capote had a delicate touch with his writing, didn't he? That's what makes In Cold Blood so great...horrifying subject and that delicate writing.

    I'll be on the lookout for Breakfast At Tiffany's.

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  7. I am going to confess my ignorance and admit that I had no idea that this was a book. Maybe the book will make more sense to me. I love Audrey, but I've never really been able to get into the movie. Thanks for opening up my eyes!

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  8. This is one I REALLY need to read. I think I'd love it, even more now that I've read your review.

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  9. You know, I've never ever read the book. I saw the movie at Paramount Theater a few years ago and was somewhat shocked to realize Holly was more or less an escort service girl. I can't imagine MM as HGL in the movie, but perhaps she's perfect in the book. After all, TC must have some idea of his characters looks.

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  10. I hope you all put it on the TBR pile. And if you were shocked by Holly in the movie, you'll be even more so by the book. They cleaned her up for the movie.

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  11. Loved the movie, but I've never read the book. I can NOT imagine Marilyn Monroe as Holly Golightly. I don't think she could have carried it off.

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  12. Thanks for the review! I love the movie and think the book would be a great read since I know Hollywood often changes things to be a little more romantic and happy. Thanks!

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  13. I haven't seen Breakfast at Tiffany's but I've always thought of it as a really lighthearted sweet kind of movie. I just finished reading In Cold Blood and wondered how different the two books must be! Wow--I think I'll definitely have to give this one another look because it doesn't seem to be anything what I thought it was. Thanks for the review, Chris.

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  14. I absolutely adore this book. I'm glad you enjoyed it too :)

    I've never seen the movie, but I've heard that the story was changed quite a lot, and that it lacks some of the complexity and bitter-sweetness that make the book so special.

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  15. Lovely review Chris! It's on my TBR. This would be a nice short one for Classics Club.

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  16. Oh, I totally have to read this book now. I didn't realize that Capote wrote this book...interesting.

    I really can't imagine Marilyn Monroe as Holly Golightly...

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