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The Swans of Fifth Avenue Bets On...

The Swans of Fifth Avenue

February 2016

I read --- and swooned over --- THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE by Melanie Benjamin. It’s a juicy story of the friendship between Truman Capote and socialite Babe Paley. Her friends, known to Truman as “the Swans,” included Slim Keith, C. Z. Guest, Gloria Guinness and Pamela Churchill.

Melanie’s editor advised in the note that accompanied the early copy I read that I would find myself googling all the characters --- and she was so right. I remember some of these bold-faced names from my Conde Nast days. They were splashed on the pages of Women’s Wear Daily, and their names adorned the Styles sections of The New York Times. They were elegant women, who married well and lived in a style that always had heads turning --- classy socialites who were envied by many. Their backstories will remind us that money is not everything and that shiny veneers can easily be scraped away.

As for Truman, his insecurities, his cunning and his insatiable lust for fame will play out on these pages. His relationship with the Swans will implode as they close ranks and expose him for the traitor he became. Again, this is a look at the social swirl that defined those days.

While her last book, THE AVIATOR’S WIFE, could be said to have looked at a more serious woman and historical figure, I love the way Melanie faithfully captured the time and place of the Swans, as well as her posh characters. When we look back at history, it’s not just about the defining serious moments and characters, but also about the social mores that defined the times. Women were changing, and so were the times. But Babe was clinging tenaciously to what she knew, and so were many of her friends. Those trying to break away were rebels.

THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE is deliciously dishy and such fun! I can see book clubs pouring a cocktail, crossing their legs and toasting this book.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue
by Melanie Benjamin

  • Publication Date: October 25, 2016
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam
  • ISBN-10: 0345528700
  • ISBN-13: 9780345528704