BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S BY TRUMAN CAPOTE
Breakfast at Tiffany’s, set in 1943, documents the friendship of a New York writer (whose name is never mentioned) with his neighbour Holiday (Holly) Golightly. Both live in a brownstone apartment building in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The story is presented as the writer’s recollections of Holly many years after the conclusion of the friendship.
Holly is a woman of mystery to everyone in her life. There is ambiguity surrounding her profession; she has no job and lives by socializing with wealthy men, who wine, dine, and give her gifts and money, together with the ocassional overnight stay.
Was Holly Golightly a prostitute?
In a 1968 interview in Playboy, Truman Capote addressed the question:
Playboy: “Would you elaborate on your comment that Holly was the prototype of today’s liberated female and representative of a “whole breed of girls who live off men but are not prostitutes. They’re our version of the geisha girl.”?
Capote: “Holly Golightly was not precisely a callgirl. She had no job, but accompanied expense-account men to the best restaurants and night clubs, with the understanding that her escort was obligated to give her some sort of gift, perhaps jewelry or a check … if she felt like it, she might take her escort home for the night. So these girls are the authentic American geishas, and they’re much more prevalent now than in 1943 or 1944, which was Holly’s era..”?
MY THOUGHTS ON THE BOOK
Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a brilliant character sketch, a small 100 page thing that you can polish off in a day. It was my companionship this past cold Sunday and it only took me a few hours to finish. It is the story of a fascinating, flawed young woman who moves to New York in the 40’s and reinvents herself as Holly Golightly. She is troubled and confused yet determined to get what she wants, without any hesitatation to walk over others to get it. She is shifting between generosity and self-absorption, kindness and cruelty throughout the entire book. As for the other characters of the book, they worship her and their lives solely revolve around her. No matter how bad she treats them, they always come back for more.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s excels in imagery … you can almost hear the clicking of martini glasses and smell her perfume wafting from the pages. What amazed me is that it’s more than a simple romantic story as some have called it. It has many layers and depth to it. In his pages Capote outlined abandonment, loneliness, the need to belong and yet not be chained at the same time, the delight in the unconvetional and not loving a wild thing. All these were delivered to his readers in the most delightful way possible.
“Never love a wild thing…If you let yourself love a wild thing. You’ll end up looking at the sky.”
― Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Now, time for book VS movie. Not that there is much for me to say. I saw the movie adaptation starring Audrey Hepburn about five years ago and today I finally get it. Though, there where some differences between the two, especially concerning Holly’s appearance and details about some other characters. I don’t want to write more to avoid spoilers. I have to admit that I enjoyed the movie but the book was way better. Capote’s writting seems so effortless, loved the writing style and ease of reading this book. Amazing descriptions, metaphors and even some charming characters.
Cons: When I reached the end, Holly’s story felt unfinished and I would have loved to read more about the other characters. Overall, I couldn’t connect to the story or to Holly, hence the 3,5 bulbs.
P.S. The photos are from one of my favorite publications and you can find it here: The Folio Society .