The Swans of Fifth Avenue : The Swans of Fifth Avenue

  • by Melanie Benjamin
  • Narrated by Cassandra Campbell, Paul Boehmer
  • Series: The Swans of Fifth Avenue
  • 12 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The New York Times best-selling author of The Aviator's Wife returns with a triumphant new novel about New York's "Swans" of the 1950s - and the scandalous, headline-making, and enthralling friendship between literary legend Truman Capote and peerless socialite Babe Paley.
Of all the glamorous stars of New York high society, none blazes brighter than Babe Paley. Her flawless face regularly graces the pages of Vogue, and she is celebrated and adored for her ineffable style and exquisite taste, especially among her friends - the alluring socialite Swans Slim Keith, C. Z. Guest, Gloria Guinness, and Pamela Churchill. By all appearances, Babe has it all: money, beauty, glamour, jewels, influential friends, a prestigious husband, and gorgeous homes. But beneath this elegantly composed exterior dwells a passionate woman - a woman desperately longing for true love and connection.
Enter Truman Capote. This diminutive, golden-haired genius with a larger-than-life personality explodes onto the scene, setting Babe and her circle of Swans aflutter. Through Babe, Truman gains an unlikely entrée into the enviable lives of Manhattan's elite along with unparalleled access to the scandal and gossip of Babe's powerful circle. Sure of the loyalty of the man she calls "True Heart", Babe never imagines the destruction Truman will leave in his wake. But once a storyteller, always a storyteller - even when the stories aren't his to tell.
Truman's fame is at its peak when such notable celebrities as Frank and Mia Sinatra, Lauren Bacall, and Rose Kennedy converge on his glittering Black and White Ball. But all too soon, he'll ignite a literary scandal whose repercussions echo through the years. The Swans of Fifth Avenue will seduce and startle listeners as it opens the door onto one of America's most sumptuous eras.


What the Critics Say

"The strange and fascinating relationship between Truman Capote and his 'swans' is wonderfully reimagined in this engrossing novel. It's a credit to Benjamin that we end up caring so much for these women of power, grace, and beauty - and for Capote, too." (Sara Gruen, New York Times best-selling author of Water for Elephants)
"Benjamin convincingly portrays a large cast of colorful historical figures while crafting a compelling, gossipy narrative with rich emotional depth." (Library Journal)
"A deliciously spiky novel of love and betrayal." (Alex George, author of A Good American)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Disconnect on many levels

At best, this book shows a tiny wedge of "society" as it once existed in New York. It attempts (in a fictional way) to explore some "what ifs" about Truman Capote as he related to several society women, their husbands and his own lover(s). It's not exactly a story, yet it's not a biograph(ies) since it weaves a few basic facts with hypotheticals to spin a tale.

As always, Capote is revealed to be the opportunist and somewhat hideous person and leach he was. This book somewhat gave him more depth than many literary critics do - but I suppose it's subjective.

The "feel" and descriptions of New York - other than those of Bergdorf-Goodman and a couple of restaurants - are shallow. The author says in the end notes that she never lived in New York, and it's obvious to anyone who has. This lack of richness of backdrop brings the characters into sharper focus which may be intentional as it brings falseness and flaws more sharply into focus.

I'm sorry I read this book because it was, overall, depressing. There are no smiles when you're reading this book - but there are no tears either. It's just there, and I walked away feeling like I do when I leave a funeral. Bad.
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- Ellen Zelda

If You Are Of Certain Age, You'll Enjoy This

At first I thought that the narrators emulating Truman Capote's voice and inflections would be grating but as it turns out, that actually added positively to the reading and listening.
Caasandra Campbell and Paul Boehmer did a great job.
The down side is, if you're under say, the age of 55, you probably won't get a grip on the character that Capote truly was merely by hearing the narrators' really good impersonations of his persona via voice. I might be wrong, but I believe that you almost have to have had a somewhat vague impression of him from that time period to really understand and get into this book.
Ms. Benjamin did a super job in painting the characters and overall, the book is a really good listen.
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- Sudi

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-26-2016
  • Publisher: Random House Audio