Author Archives: BookerTalk
Do You Have Rainy Day Books?
I’m not talking about what you read on days when the heavens open and all you want to do is snuggle up by the fire with a cuppa and a good book.
I’m talking about books that you’re looking forward to reading so much that you reserve them for a future time? A time when you know you’ll want to read something very special.
I have a few books that fit this description. They include:
- Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Le Ventre de Paris (The Belly of Paris) by Emile Zola
- Gould’s Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan
- Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
- Beloved by Toni Morrison
- The Hours by Michael Cunningham
- Becoming by Michelle Obama
This is just a sample of my ‘rainy day books’ from my large collection of unread books. I think there are around 30 in total, some of which have been on my shelves for more than five years.
Some are books by authors whose work I’ve enjoyed hugely in the past (Adichie, Flanagan, Zola). Others like the Ghosh and Cunningham have come highly recommended by other bloggers.
The problem is that the rainy day never actually arrives.
I’m coming to the conclusion that in fact the day will never materialise. That I’ll always find a reason to leave the rainy day book on the shelf and go in search of something else to read.
Which means that instead of reading a book I’m more or less guaranteed to enjoy, I read one that I might enjoy.
How perverse is that???
That quote from Henry Thoreau has given me the impetus to rethink this whole rainy day approach.
What If Rainy Days Never Materialise?
None of us like to contemplate the fact that we have only a finite number of years left on this planet. And thus a finite number of books it’s physically possible to read.
If I keep putting certain books aside to read one day in the future, that day may never come. I could easily go to my grave never having read the very books I most want to read. Meanwhile I could have wasted time on second best novels. A sobering thought.
It’s time to turn my thinking completely on its head.
Instead of squirrelling them away it’s time to bring these books into the daylight. And to read them. Because if not now, when will I ever get around to them? I’d hate to think the answer to that question could be never.
Do you have ‘rainy day books’ ? Or am I alone in being perverse in my reading?
The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny
Take one idyllic village buried deep in the Québec countryside
Add a bunch of memorable characters who include a duck loving poet and a rather portly host of the village bistro.
Finally, mix in a police chief with a penchant for Marcus Aurelius and an instinctive understanding of human nature.
This, in essence, is the recipe for the highly successful Armand Gamache series of crime fiction by Louise Penny.
There are 14 novels in the series to date – the 15th comes out in the next few weeks. I’ve read eight and there hasn’t been a dud among them.
My latest venture into Armand’s world was via The Cruelest Month which is book number three in the series.
It takes its title from the most frequently quoted line in T S Eliot’s poem The Waste Land. And it picks up Eliot’s theme of rebirth and new life.
Gamache took the bread to the long pine table, set for dinner, then returned to the living room. He reflected on T.S. Eliot and thought the poet had called April the cruelest month not because it killed flowers and buds on the trees, but because sometimes it didn’t. How difficult it was for those who didn’t bloom when all about was new life and hope.
The spirit of re-birth is alive in the tiny village of Three Pines. It’s Easter. Spring is on its way. And the villagers are celebrating the first signs of new life in the trees and in their gardens.
But the fun and festivity of the annual Easter Egg hunt is overshadowed by an evil from the past.
On a hill above the village stands the old Hadley House, the scene of some very nasty events in the previous novel A Fatal Grace. The atmosphere of malevolence has never completely gone away.
When a group of friends hold a seance in the house to rid the place of its past, one of them dies. Of fright? Or was she murdered? That’s the question Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his team must answer.
As they uncover long-held rivalries and secrets, Armand Gamache has to confront his own worst fears. Someone seems hell bent on damaging his reputation and destroying his career.
Just like the other books in the series, The Cruelest Month has a plot with enough twists and turns to keep you turning the pages. But the plot isn’t the most important aspect of this novel.. It’s the setting of the picturesque Québec village of Three Pines and the character of Armand Gamache that give this book, and indeed the whole series, its edge.
Enticing Magical Village Setting
The Cruelest Month takes us once more to Three Pines; a place so tiny that it doesn’t even figure on a map. Yet it boasts a bistro that becomes a home from home for the detectives (food figures large in every book) and a bookshop presided over by Myrna Landers, a black psychologist. It’s residents include Ruth Zardo, a blunt-spoken award-winning poet with a pet duck and Clara Morrow, a respected painter.
It’s the kind of place in which I could happily take up residence. In fact I cherish the hope that one day one of those cottages will come up for sale….. Until then I have to see it through Gamache’s eyes.
The mountains rose graciously on the far side, folding into each other, their slopes covered with a fuzz of lime green buds. He could smell not just the pine now, but the very earth, and other aromas. The musky rich scent of dried autumn leaves, the wood smoke rising from the chimneys below, and something else. He lifted his head and inhaled again, softly this time. There, below the bolder aromas, sat a subtler scent. The first of the spring flowers.
That setting and its comfortable social structure is of course one of the hallmarks of a traditional murder mystery. But although Louise Penny uses this – and other traditional devices like a careful questioning of suspects and well reasoned deductions – she goes also one step further with a psychologically astute dimension.
Behind every crime Armand Gamache investigates lies a tale of raw emotion and human tragedy. In The Cruelest Month we’re talking of jealousy and how kindness can turn to murderous intent.
Astute Psychological Insight
What I love about this series is how Louise Penny introduces a new psychological concept in each novel. Gamache has a natural ability to see beyond the facts to the emotion that often his suspects are at pains to hide. But in The Cruelest Month, his resident psychologist suggests what he’s dealing with is “the near enemy.”
Two emotions that look the same but are actually opposites. The one parades as the other; is mistaken for the other, but one is healthy and the other ‘s sick, twisted. … Attachment masquerades as Love; Pity as as Compassion and Indifference as Equanimity.
While I love the settings and the characters of these novels, it’s the psychological dimension and the way they draw upon other influences that I enjoy the most. How often do you come across another crime novel which as seamlessly incorporates psychological theory as it does poetry, Marcus Aurelius and the Bible?
The Cruelest Month: Fast Facts
- The Cruelest Month is the third title in the series of novels by Louise Penny featuring her Canadian chief police inspector Armand Gamache.
- The series began with Still Life in 2006. The latest episode , A Better Man, is due for publication end of August 2019
- Each of the books in the series is meant to be a stand-alone tale although Louise Penny does recommend they are read in order. Her advice is based the progression of the characters from book to book.
- Based on my experience with this series I think if you read out of sequence you’ll miss a lot of the drama of what happens to Gamache himself
- Details of each book be found on Louise Penny’s website
- If you like what you find there there is another site she calls her ‘virtual bistro’ where she reflects on each book and explains what inspired her thinking and readers can post questions/comments.
Novelists who write about slavery seldom shy away from depicting the immense cruelty and inhumanity of this system.
They pull at the heartstrings with historically accurate scenes of brutality and deprivation and characters forced to experience injustice and degradation.
Few authors dare to introduce any element of comedy into their work.
Few that is except for Andrea Levy in The Long Song.
A Different Form of Slavery
This is the story of Miss July, a child conceived as a result of the rape of Kitty, a field slave on the Amity sugar plantation in the early 19th century. She is destined for a hard, and likely short life, toiling in the fields with her mother.
But the plantation owner’s sister, recently arrived from England to live at Amity, spots the child. On a whim she decides this cute child will become her maid. So at the age of eight, July is separated from her mother and moved to the great house.
It’s an improvement on working in the fields. But she’s still a slave and not even allowed to keep her own name. She’s set to work sewing and waiting hand and foot upon this fat and temperamental woman.
The Long Song is set in the turbulent years before the abolition of slavery in Jamaica.
July experiences the violent retribution enacted by white settlers upon their slave populations in the aftermath of uprisings in 1831. She lives through years when rumours of freedom run through the plantations. But when freedom does happen in 1838, it doesn’t bring an end to hostile relationships between the slaves and their former masters.
Not much scope for levity you’d think.
But surprisingly, without ever trivialising her subject, Andrea Levy manages to inject a fair degree of humour into this narrative. She clearly has a gift for finding the comedy in the most unlikely of situations.
Light Amid The Darkness
July is a mischievous figure, happy in the midst of chaos. One scene has her ruin her mistress’s Christmas lunch by using an old bed sheet instead of an Irish linen table cloth. Another sees her hiding under her master’s bed, desperately trying to control her bladder while he paces the room.
Switching between third-person past and first-person present, Andrea Levy mixes the earthy Jamaican patois of the young girl with the more sophisticated and reflective voice of the older woman.
The Long Song is told in the form of July’s memoirs. Her son Thomas, a wealthy printer, intends to publish the book in an attractively bound edition with sugarcane on the cover.
But he and his octogenarian mother comically don’t see eye to eye on how this book should be written. Thomas remonstrates with his mother when he thinks she is misleading readers or leaving out significant episodes. But to Miss July, its all “fuss-fuss.“
July is, as she has always been, a shrewd, independent-minded woman. This is her story and no-one is going to tell her how is should be told, not even her son.
She will not, she tells us, dawdle over descriptions of trees and grass. Nor will she fill her memoir with the “puff and twaddle ” found in books to satisfy “some white lady’s mind”.
… your storyteller is a woman possessed of a forthright tongue and little ink. Waxing upon the nature of trees when all know they are green and lush upon this island, or birds which are plainly plentiful and raucous, or taking good words to whine upon the cruelly hot sun, is neither prudent nor my fancy. Let me confess this without delay so you might consider whether my tale is one in which you can find an interest. If not, then be on your way, for there are plenty books to satisfy if words flowing free as the droppings that fall from the backside of a mule is your desire
A Reliable Witness?
Can we rely upon her as a narrator? Only in part….
She describes one milestone event – the symbolic funeral that marked the end of slavery on 31 July 1838 – only to later admit she was in the house with her mistress at the time.
July cheekily challenges any reader who disputes her version of events, to do their own research. She, herself, will not be weighed down by any burden of proof. But she warns these readers: if you find yourself in agreement with the views expressed in one publication Conflict and change. A view from the great house of slaves, slavery and the British Empire, “then away with you – for I no longer wish you as my reader.”
July is a fantastic character; vulnerable yet proud. “Me be a mulatto, not a negro,” she insists when trying to get admission into a Friday night dance. She’s more successful at gaining entry into the bed of her mistress’s new husband, Robert Goodwin, a pretty-faced, naïve new overseer. But his belief in abolition is thrown out of the window – and July out of his bed – when the newly freed slaves refuse to obey his commands to work. They’d rather be tending to their own crops than bringing in his harvest.
Andrea Levy shows the reality of plantation life: the extreme physical hardship and the brutality meted out casually to the slaves. Women are raped, slaves are flogged and hanged or locked into a rat infested prison. But she never descends into crude sensationalism or allows the narrative to be weighed down by obvious messages. The novel is all the better for that.
The Long Song: Fast Facts
- The Long Song was published in 2010 and shortlisted for the Booker Prize the same year.
- It was the recipient of the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction in 2011.
- Andrea Levy was born in London to Jamaican parents in 1956. Levy began her career as a costume assistant, working part-time in the costume departments of the BBC and the Royal Opera House. She began writing in her mid-30s after her father died.
- She struggled to gain acceptance initially but achieved critical success with her fourth novel, Small Island , which deals with the immediate outcomes of World War II and migration on the Windrush generation. It was subsequently adapted for television and stage.
- A three-part adaptation of The Long Song was broadcast by the BBC in December 2016.
- Andrea Levy died in February 2019. The Long Song was her final novel.
Imagine you’re in a train station or a doctor’s waiting room.
If you prefer, imagine you’re standing in a queue to get your passport renewed, pay your parking fine or buy theatre tickets.
- frantically texting on your phone;
- glancing at your watch every few seconds;
- staring into space;
- glaring at the back of the person in front of you, somehow thinking this will make the queue move quicker or
- reading a book/magazine/newspaper?
If you picked the last of these options, you are in a minority I suspect.
Take a look around you the next time you’re in one of what Stephen King would call “dead spots in life”. How many of the people around you are reading? Very few I suspect.
For reasons I won’t bore you with right now, I’ve spent many hours in hospital waiting rooms in the past few years. They always run late so I make sure I have a book or an e-reader with me.
I’m often the only one. I’ll see the occasional person with a magazine or a newspaper. But the majority are just sitting, either looking at the blank wall in front of them or reading dog-eared notices about the myriad of problems the body can throw at you.
How can they do this? I find the prospect of being stuck in a place for even 15 minutes without anything to read as highly stressful. No-one wants to be in these places but if you can lose yourself in a book for a while, it makes the wait slightly more manageable. But there these people sit, sometimes for more than an hour, with absolutely nothing to occupy their minds.
I’ve not reached the level of Andy Miller who, during his Year of Reading Dangerously, would find an excuse to go to the post office just so that he could read.
But I do tend to have a book with me almost every time I step out of the house. They help keep me sane.
How about you? Do you always carry a book with you or are you happy sitting in a Zen like state while waiting?
It’s August so it must be Women in Translation month.
This year, founder and host of #WITMonth, Meytal at Biblibio, is building a list of the top 100 women in translation.
Although I haven’t read anywhere near as many women writers in translation as I’d like, I still managed to find 10 that I recommend.
The Murder Of Halland by Pia Juul (Danish)
An enigmatic novel that demonstrates how Nordic fiction isn’t all about “noir.” Though crime does features, the discovery of a body is simply a trigger for the dead man’s wife to re-evaluate her marriage, her relationship with friends and with her estranged daughter.
The Vegetarian by Han Kang (Korean)
A startling and disturbing novella of a Korean housewife who decides to stop eating meat. Her decision puts her at opposition to her family and her culture and on a path to mental collapse
Please Look After Mom by Shin Kyung-sook (Korean)
The children of one elderly Korean woman are forced to re-examine their relationship with their mother when she goes missing in a crowded metro station.
Fear and Trembling by Amélie Nothomb (Belgian)
An unusual novel of the difficulties faced by a young girl when she begins to work in a Japanese multinational company and doesn’t understand the rules.
The Blue Room by Hanne Ørstavik (Norwegian)
Another gem from Peirene. This one looks at the difficult relationship between a mother who likes to be in control and a daughter who wants her freedom.
Lullaby by Leïla Slimani (French)
Parents intent on building a successful career. A nanny who seems too perfect to be true. Two children in her care. What could possibly go wrong?
The Quest for Christa T by Christa Wolf (German)
A fascinating portrait of an East German woman from her childhood at the end of World War 2 until her early death in a 1960s Communist state.
Beside The Sea by Veronique Olmi (French)
A mother’s love for her children and her fears of letting them go out into the world are brought vividly to life.
Goodbye Tsugumi by Banana Yoshimoto
Two old friends re-unite one summer. A chance to re-kindle their relationship and remember the idyllic times they spent together. But their lives are set on different courses.
The Housekeeper And The Professor by Yoko Ogawa
Quietly understated tale of a wise old man who leads a younger mind to enlightenment.
What women in translation books would you recommend? I’m particularly interested in authors from Asia or South America.
It’s Booker Prize season once more. The 2019 longlist was announced this week, triggering a process that will end on October 14 when the winner will pick up their £50,000 cheque.
It all felt very familiar.
But there was one thing different this year.
The judges made their usual remarks about the diversity and richness of the novels submitted for consideration. And, as so often in the past, they described their experience of reading 151 novels as “exhilarating.” It’s not my idea of exhilaration but perhaps that’s why I’ve never had the call inviting me to become a Booker Prize judge.
There was no controversy about the longlist.
No complaints about the imbalance between male and female authors.
No complaints that the judges were dumbing down the prize, trading literary experimentation and creativity for re-readability and popularity
And no complaints that the prize was becoming dominated by American authors at the expensive of those from Commonwealth countries.
The reaction to the longest announcement was in fact rather muted.
Booker Prize: Reactions from Experts
What’s all the fuss about?
The surprise about this year’s Booker longlist? That for the first time in years, there are few surprises.Justine Jardin, The Guardian
Justin Jardin’s reaction encapsulated the responses of many literary editors and arts editors who work for national newspapers around the world.
The longlist … is ever so woke-flavoured; it’s very Hackney book club. It’s solid … but it lacks thrillers.
Robbie Millen, Literary Editor , The Times
Reading these articles I got the feeling that journalists were struggling to make a decent story out of the Booker Prize longlist.
The mystery novel
A number of them like Alex Marshall, European culture correspondent for the New York Times, homed in on the one book on the list which is a mystery.
Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments, the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, doesn’t get released until after the shortlist is announced on May 3.
“….its contents and plot are a closely guarded secret. Little is known except that it is set 15 years after The Handmaid’s Tale and is narrated by three female characters.Alex Marshall, New York Times
According to The Guardian, the Booker Prize judges were so constrained by “a ferocious non disclosure agreement’ that they couldn’t give any details about plot, setting or characters. All they could say was :
… it’s terrifying and exhilarating.
Big names dominate
Several of the editors focused on the presence of previous award winners, like Margaret Atwood, in the longlist.
Irish News speculated that Salman Rushdie, who won the Booker Prize almost four decades ago could win again. His novel Quichotte, which is published in August, is described a picaresque road trip through contemporary America and was inspired by Don Quixote.
Other newspapers highlighted that this will be the third nomination in a row for Deborah Levy. Her novel The Man Who Saw Everything, contains two versions of the same story.
Although the list is packed with the names of well established authors, only The Guardian mentioned some notable omissions such as Ian McEwan, Mark Haddon and Ali Smith all of whom had well received novels published within the eligibility period.
Weighing in at 1,000 pages
It was the inclusion of Lucy Ellman on the Booker Prize longlist that caught the attention of Anita Singh of The Daily Telegraph.
If you’re looking for a long read, the Booker Prize has just the thing.
Lucy Ellmann’s Ducks, Newburyport, consists of a single sentence running over 1,000 pages. It is the interior monologue of an Ohio housewife … a stream-of-consciousness written without paragraphs or full stops.
The 426,100-word sentence is broken only a handful of times,Anita Singh, The Daily Telegraph
As if anticipating the eyebrow raising and pursed lips that would greet Ellmann’s inclusion, Anita Singh quoted the judges’ comments about how readable people will find this book.
The thing to know is that it’s extremely funny. So although it looks very dense and worrying on the page, actually every single page is full of puns and jokes. And there is a plot in thereJoanna MacGregor, Booker Prize judge
The nationality game
Every year the announcement of the prize is followed by an analysis of its geographic diversity.
After the rule change in , there were complaints that there were too many American authors selected, which was unfair to authors from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa etc
We didn’t get that reaction this year , largely because American authors were noticeable for their absence.
As David Sanderson, Arts Correspondent for The Times, noted, there is only one American on the longlist (Lucy Ellman) and she moved to UK as a teenager.
The list will go some way to appeasing British publishers who last year wrote to the Booker trustees to object to the broadening of entry criteria to include American authorsDavid Sanderson, The Times
Patriotism did however rear its head. The Irish Times (of course) led its Booker story with the fact local boy Kevin Barry had been chosen for Night Boat to Tangier. They’re no doubt hoping 2019 will see Barry emulate the success of last year’s winner, Belfast-born Anna Burns
There was cause for celebration in Africa however with the inclusion of two Nigerian authors and another whose work explores the African disaspora. The Johannesburg Review of Books, was obviously nursing old wounds since they couldn’t resist mentioning the absence of any African authors on the list for the past two years.
And the winner is???
None of the journalists at this stage are predicting a winner or even what will make it to the shortlist on September 3. In any case, history has shown us that it isn’t always the favourite that walks off with the prize.
If you enjoy a little speculation, take a look at the Booker Prize 2019 longlist discussion board at Goodreads where the members of the Mookse and Gripes group are voting for their favourites.
I’m definitely underqualified to give my own predictions because, for the first time since I started my Booker Prize project, I’ve not read even one of the longlisted titles.
But if you have, then do post a comment below with your reactions and comments.
Booker Prize Longlist 2019
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood – Canada– (Vintage, Chatto & Windus)
Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry – Ireland– (Canongate Books)
My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite – Nigeria – (Atlantic Books)
Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann – USA/UK – (Galley Beggar Press)
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo –UK – (Hamish Hamilton)
The Wall by John Lanchester – UK– (Faber & Faber)
The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy –UK – (Hamish Hamilton)
Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli – Mexico/Italy– (4th Estate)
An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma – Nigeria– (Little Brown)
Lanny by Max Porter – UK– (Faber & Faber)
Quichotte by Salman Rushdie –UK/India– (Jonathan Cape)
10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak – UK/Turkey – (Viking)
Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson –UK– (Jonathan Cape)
Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
Today she’d be classed as a ‘celeb “ or a socialite. The kind of girl whose party-loving, free-wheeling lifestyle fills newspapers and magazines with gossip and sparkle.
Holly Golightly was not the original “IT” girl but she is the character forever synonymous with a dazzling, sophisticated, glamorous way of life. It’s an image cemented into the public consciousness by Audrey Hepburn in the film version of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Hepburn’s Holly is chic, carefree and charismatic.
However, Truman Capote’s novella provides us with a far more complex figure. His Holly Golightly is rather a lonely figure, a girl whose carefree persona is a front, and one she protects fiercely.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s is set in New York, mainly around a brownstone building in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The un-named narrator, an aspiring writer, gets his first glimpse of Holly when she arrives home late at night, and tries to rouse another tenant because – once again – she’s lost her apartment key.
… she wore a slim cool black dress, black sandals, a pearl choker. For all her chic thinness she had an almost breakfast-cereal air of health, a soap and lemon cleanness… A pair of dark glasses blotted out her eyes. It was a face beyond childhood, yet this side of belonging to a woman.
Holly, he learns, has no job. She lives by socialising with wealthy men who take her to clubs and restaurants and give her money and expensive presents. She hopes to marry one of them.
Is Holly Golightly a prostitute?
This was a question Capote tried to address in a 1968 interview with Playboy. Holly Golightly, he said, was a modern day version of a Geisha girl.
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.
Holly, with her curious lifestyle and outspoken views, fascinates the narrator. Over the course of a year, they become close friends.
Who is the real Holly Lightly?
The narrator only gets a glimpse of her past through the fragments she occasionally reveals. She talks about her childhood as “an almost voluptuous account of swimming and summer, Christmas trees, pretty cousins and parties: in short, happy in a way that she was not”.
We never know if Holly is making this up or if she’s describing her actual childhood, but the narrator doesn’t think it squares up with the girl he has come to know.
But when he asks any direct questions, she clams up again.
She has, it turns out, one obvious reason to be secretive.
Holly Golightly is actually Lulamae. And she’s not a single girl but a child bride who ran away to New York to escape her hillbilly husband and her step-children.
Capote’s narrative presents us with a subtler reason, one that gives us more more reason to sympathise with this girl.
Orphaned as a young child, she’d been sent with her brother to live with relatives who treated them badly.
Well, you never saw a more pitiful something. Ribs sticking out everywhere, legs so puny they can’t hardly stand, teeth wobbling so bad they can’t chew mush. … She had good cause to run off from that house.
Secrecy as a form of protection
Too damaged to have a deep emotional connection with anyone but her brother, she has fabricated a new identity as a form of protection. If she can isolate herself emotionally from other people, then she can always be in control.
She won’t even allow herself to become attached to the cat she found by the river one day. ” We don’t belong to each other: he’s an independent and, so am I”, she says at one point. And later on, when she is about to leave the country; she defends her decision to let the cat loose.
We just met by the river one day: that’s all. Independents, both of us. We never made each other any promises. We never – ” she said, and her voiced collapsed …
Holly tries to convince herself that she’s happy being alone. But is she? I’d like to imagine her enjoying her new life in Argentina but reading between the lines, I suspect not.
Though I’ve enjoyed the film version, I prefer the novella’s more complex portrayal of Holly Golightly. Capote gives us plenty of reasons not to like this girl. She steal’s another girl’s fiancée, shows little concern for who she inconveniences as long as she gets what she wants and acts as a messenger for an imprisoned gangster.
But Capote has also made Holly Golightly a sympathetic character; one that embraces the good things in life as a way of hiding from its darker side. By the end, we wish her well.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s Fast Facts
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s was bought by Harper’s Bazaar. A change of editor resulted in requests to change some of the language which was considered too ‘tart’ and unsuitable. Capote was incensed and sold his work instead to Esquire magazine who published it in 1958.
- Holly was originally named Connie Gustafson. Truman Capote later changed her name to Holiday Golightly and then Holly. He apparently based the character of on several different women, all friends or close acquaintances.
- The novella was loosely adapted into the 1961 movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s directed by Blake Edwards. The movie was transposed to 1960 rather than the 1940s, and had the narrator and Holly fall in love.
- I read this as part of my #15booksofsummer reading project and my Classics Club project.