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The Swans of Fifth Avenue

by Melanie Benjamin

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin X
The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin
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  • Mary S. (Springville, AL)
    Another Great Novel by Melanie Benjamin
    If you want to know what it's like spending care free days on private yachts, shopping in prestigious stores, lunching in the finest restaurants, and attending exclusive parties in New York City during the 50s and 60s, then read The Swans of Fifth Avenue. This is the fascinating story of Truman Capote and the beautiful, rich, and fashionable women he surrounded himself with. There was a caution at the beginning in the Dear Reader section that once you start reading you will begin Googling all the characters, which is exactly what I did. Benjamin definitely did her research and her writing of the dialogue between these characters seems so real you would think that she had an inside track to these famous people.

    I loved this novel and highly recommend it. I have read all of Melanie Benjamin's novels and with each one she just gets better and better. I will add my own caution here, clear your schedule, because once you start reading a novel by Melanie Benjamin you won't be able to put it down.
  • Joan V. (Miller Place, NY)
    Trophy Wives
    Thoroughly enjoyed this book, Ms. Benjamin did a terrific job on her research. The "Swans" in this book are the elegant socialites who were prominent in New York during the early 1960s. Truman Capote was their little darling until he published articles in The New Yorker and publicly broke the secrets they had all shared. It is fascinating to read about the extravagant lifestyles, but they are all a facade that these women had to maintain in order to keep their rich husbands happy, especially Babe Paley. "…if she wasn't perfect, precisely whom others expected her to be…" she did not exist.

    Whether you lived through this time period or it is all new to you, I think it is an enjoyable read. The story moves effortlessly between all the narrators and was very easy to follow. I think this would be a great choice for a book club. As the editor remarked, you will find yourself googling to see what these people looked like.
  • Beverly J. (Hoover, AL)
    All that Glitters Is Not Gold
    Dazzling with glamour, entertaining with gossipy deeds, provocative with emotional profundity, and gritty with the trappings of a society that valued group expectations this voyeuristic tale titillates and satisfies the reader. While reading this book I was drawn back to a time before social media when a pastime was reading the monthly magazines to see what the rich and famous were up to. I was drawn into the glamorous world of New York in the 1950s – 1970s when a closed group of women, known as "the swans" let an unlikely person into their confidence. Just when the gossipy tone gets to be a little too much the author expertly turns the plot in another direction that exposes the faults in the façade.

    I recommend this book for readers looking for a pleasurable page-turning read.
  • Pam S. (Wellesley, MA)
    The Swans of Fifth Avenue
    This book is for anyone who was fascinated by the cultural and social world of mid 20th century Manhattan. It is a work of historical fiction that imagines the lives of Truman Capote and his "swans," the beautiful wealthy women who dominated NY society in the 50s and 60s. The story is well-researched and well-written yet very gossipy, although not nearly as gossipy and scathing as Capote's 1975 story that exposed the private lives of these women and led to his sad final years.
    I enjoyed the book in a voyeuristic way while continually being appalled by the characters' privileged and superficial lives.
  • Sharon R. (Deerfield, IL)
    Glamour, Wealth & Debauchery Oh My!
    A very large cast of 1950s and 1960s New York high society women come together for lunch, to be seen, and to pass judgment on all who cross their paths. Enter Truman Capote who soon becomes the group's darling. Truman enters their privileged world having grown up in relative poverty with no family to speak of, and uses the women to embellish his "stories". Capote is on the rise in the publishing world and Melanie Benjamin does a superb job of detailing his meteoric rise and fall as his life intersects with his "Swans".

    I wanted to love this book, I loved The Aviator's Wife, but it was hard to read about real people with so much wealth and power complaining about everyday life. I got really tired of the "Swans" complaining about getting dressed up, make-up and hair, to go to lunch - Boo Hoo!
  • Leslie D. (Le Roy, NY)
    Duckling and swan
    The novel was interesting in that it simultaneously fascinated and repelled me—the 1950s upscale social scene was so false and hurtful to those involved in it, while the personalities of Babe Paley and Truman Capote and their deep need for a true friendship was developed well. The gossipy style and the setting make me think this would appeal to fans of Mad Men and tell-all memoirs. I found it similar to Ariel Lawhon's The Wife, the Maid and the Mistress, a novel that also depicts a certain era of New York City and the subversive ways women need to act in order to navigate the world of powerful men.
  • Eileen F. (Drexel Hill, PA)
    More Truman
    Many books and movies recently have been about the life and times of Truman Capote. The Swans of Fifth Avenue gives us another version of him. This is an entertaining book about Capote and how he inserted himself into New York high society. The story is well told but for me, it had too many overly detailed descriptions of clothes , food and furnishings. It did bring 1960s New York society to life as well as the rise and fall of Truman Capote.
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