Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote : A Review
Rating : 5/5
Breakfast at Tiffany’s was always a familiar name in my mind as a popular movie but never as a book. Recently, on reading In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, I came across Breakfast at Tiffany’s as the work of the same author. In Cold Blood had filled me with dread and despair hence I was on the verge of abandoning the work of Capote forever. In hindsight, what a mistake this would have been! When I saw Breakfast at Tiffany’s in my local book haunt I was tempted to buy the book as I was convinced that any work starring the adorable Audrey Hepburn can never be even slightly macabre. Moreover, I had really loved the writing style of Capote. This was how I ended up reading the adorable novella curled up on my bed on a Saturday night. And what a book it was! It swept me off my feet with the magnificent writing and the unforgettable characters who were completely realistic in every possible way.
The book is narrated by “Fred” about whom we know very little except that he is a struggling writer and shares the same building as Holiday (Holly) Golightly. Holly is a New York café girl who has no job and lives off wealthy men by socializing with them in exchange for expensive gifts and money. The name “Fred” is given to the narrator by Holly who feels a resemblance between her brother Fred and the narrator. The story details the life of Holly in the short duration she and the narrator spend together in New York
This was the first time I was introduced to the literary sweetheart Holly Golightly and my first impression was not at all favourable. I adore head strong protagonists who are focused and responsible. Here is a protagonist who appears completely shallow and nonchalant. Yet, as the story progresses Capote starts revealing more and more about Holly till she became irresistible. She is not without her faults – Holly is silly, flighty and an aimless party animal (maybe even a prostitute) but she is also naïve, witty and charming. Once her carefree exterior is peeled off, she is just a young girl searching for her place in the world. Her naivety in many aspects fills the readers with an urge to protect her from the evils of the world. Yet, Holly is no stranger to fending for herself. All by herself from the tender age of fourteen she has learnt to survive in this hostile world.
Audrey Hepburn as Holly
She is also a hopeless romantic and a free bird. She fills her business card with “Travelling” instead of an actual address as she feels that she has not yet identified the place to which she actually belongs. As her past unfolds we are introduced to Holly when she was Lulamae Barnes, poverty stricken and hungry. The narrator also touches upon her marriage to Doc Golightly and her subsequent escape to California. Being wild at heart, Holly is averse to being tied down. Yet, throughout the story, she keeps on searching for love and a place to belong. Will it ever be possible for Holly to truly settle and lead a peaceful domestic life? Capote has not answered this question but leaves the readers guessing as to the ultimate fate of Holly – happily married or travelling the world?
“Never love a wild thing, Mr. Bell,” Holly advised him. “That was Doc’s mistake. He was always lugging home wild things. A hawk with a hurt wing. One time it was a full-grown bobcat with a broken leg. But you can’t give your heart to a wild thing: the more you do, the stronger they get. Until they’re strong enough to run into the woods. Or fly into a tree. Then a taller tree. Then the sky. That’s how you’ll end up, Mr. Bell. If you let yourself love a wild thing. You’ll end up looking at the sky.”
Living a carefree life, surrounded by friends, admirers and suitors, the only genuine connection she has is with her brother Fred. Through a menagerie of characters Capote has depicted the buzzing social life of Holly. There is Mag Wildwood, a friend of Holly’s, who is a model with a pronounced stutter which she sometimes uses for her advantage ; Rusty Trawler, the infantile millionaire, relentlessly pursuing Holly only to impulsively marry Mag. There is also Jose Ybarra-Jaegar, a Brazilian diplomat, who was betrothed to Mag but was secretly cheating on her with Holly only to abandon her at her hour of need. The only true friend of Holly, other than Fred and Joe Bell, a bar owner, is O.J Berman, a Hollywood casting agent.
Overall, in less than 100 pages Capote has created a brilliant masterpiece with an interesting story line. It is to Capote’s credit that he has created the unforgettable literary character of Holly Golightly and also made her both believable and extremely likeable. This book is a must read for everybody even if you have seen the movie. Read this book and come fall in love with the complicated life of Holly Golightly!