Book review: Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s

So I said, ‘What about Breakfast at Tiffany’s’?

I think I knew a lot more about the movie starring Audrey Hepburn, or the song by Deep Blue Something than I knew about the book, and even that, well, my knowledge was limited to the classic shot of black dress and beehive hairdo, pearls and a cigarette holder.

This was another find from the building’s books-and-goods swap facilitated via the facebook community. I’ve been reading through the pile, and I’m now reviewing a book or two behind where I’m reading, thanks to a little blog-post hiatus. (Will post a blog about life-stuff that led to the break, and honestly, I’ve been really poor with writing anything over the last three weeks).

Cover thanks to Google, and it actually is the correct one. A thin little book.


The whole point of the rather plot-light Breakfast at Tiffany’s is its characterisation. The central character of Miss Holiday Golightly (played by Audrey Hepburn in the movie – which I’ve not seen). She is capricious, inconsistent and manipulative of those around her. Not particularly for any reason of bad behaviour, but just because she wants to step up in the world. She is flighty in a way that makes the narrator fall in love with her, or at the very least, fall under her spell. Holly Golightly, it becomes clear through the story, is not of the Boston Golightlys – not of any proper society family at all. She is a plucky kid, who has wound her way into society by means of learning a little elocution and a lot of enticing rich men to pay her way. While she isn’t really a nice person, she is a sympathetic character. Her interactions with her cat, more than with people, show this.

The narrator’s characterisation is less over-the-top than that of Miss Golightly. It feels like a self-conscious portrait of being a little-published author in New York, not really knowing where you fit in and how to break in. As the story is told in the first person, it is pretty easy to conflate Capote himself with this narrator/author character. The narrator voice blends well with the setting, which is a rickety building containing several flats, including his (above) and Holly’s (below).


The main thing I knew about Truman Capote before reading this book was that he was friends with Harper Lee, of To Kill a Mockingbird fame. So, I assumed that he was American (yes, decidedly so), and that he may have spent time in the south (yes, born there). Things I’ve learned: he was also openly gay, and had several romantic encounters with various men, including allegedly some that were supposedly heterosexual. He had a high pitched voice, and was known for his odd dress-sense. He wrote several short stories and novellas, and several novels. He was also involved in various other popular media, such as film.

Worth it?

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is published as a novella and three short stories. I can see why they are studied in various literature courses around the world.

Honestly, it’s not my usual taste, and I read it more to have read it.

I prefer the song.

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