Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Book Review: The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin

Hi all,

I have just finished the most amazing novel and I just have to share it with you. If you love being swept back in time (well, to the 60s & 70s) and read about the beautiful people – the rich, the famous, the infamous – then you will love this latest novel by Melanie Benjamin. So here it is – The Swans of Fifth Avenue.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue
Melanie Benjamin

Book Description:

The New York Times bestselling 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 entrĂ©e 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 readers as it opens the door onto one of America’s most sumptuous eras.

Publish Date: January 26, 2016

Delacorte Press

Buy now:

Or at a bookstore near you.

My Five Star Review:

Beautiful. Captivating. Spellbinding. The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin is all that, and much, much more.

As someone who’s read the biography of Truman Capote (Capote: A Biography by Gerald Clarke), the writings of Truman Capote, and countless other biographies of the people who appear in this novel, it’s not surprising that I was thrilled at the opportunity to read this fictional novel about these real-life characters. I was not disappointed. Melanie Benjamin brought all these amazing characters back to life and the reader is submerged quickly into a time period of glamour, beauty, and dark secrets.

Truman Capote was able to slip his way into high society by means of his friend, Babe Paley and her powerful husband, Bill. She and her friends – The Swans – all find the outrageous Truman interesting and entertaining. Even before his successes, Truman was first and foremost a storyteller, and the stories he told (gossipy ones) kept the ladies asking for more. But more than that, Truman, who so desired the love that his mother denied him, and Babe, the lonely trophy wife, found between them a connection deeper than physical love – they each found what was lacking within them in each other. What Babe did not ever even once consider is that her dearest of friends – her True Heart – would betray her and her circle of friends with a swipe of his pen.

This is more than just a novel about friendship and betrayal. This novel brings you back to a time when money, power, and titles meant everything, when the beautiful people were put on pedestals and not allowed to be knocked off. They were society’s best and brightest, most powerful and most beautiful, and everyone wanted to be them. No one knew of the dark secrets that stained their lives, because all the world wanted to see was their beauty. And then there was Truman Capote – brilliant, young, promising, and so, so talented. He took their breath away, until he shared their secrets and lost them forever. With a mixture of fact (timeline details) and fiction, Ms. Benjamin was able to recreate these interesting characters and take us deep inside their lives. She tells a story that is so rich, so dark, and so haunting. This book will stay with you long after you’ve read the last page.

(I received an advance copy of this novel from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.)

About the Author:

Melanie Benjamin was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. An avid reader all her life--as a child, she was the proud winner, several years running, of the summer reading program at her local library--she still firmly believes that a lifetime of reading is the best education a writer can have.

While attending Indiana University--Purdue University at Indianapolis, Melanie performed in many community theater productions before meeting her husband, moving to the Chicago area and raising two sons. Writing was always beckoning, however, and soon she began writing for local magazines and newspapers before venturing into her first love, fiction.

By combining her passion for history and biography, she has found her niche writing historical fiction, concentrating on the "stories behind the stories." Her most recent novel, THE AVIATOR'S WIFE, a novel about Anne Morrow Lindbergh, is a New York Times, USA Today and Indiebound best seller. Her first historical novel, ALICE I HAVE BEEN, was a national bestseller; this was followed by the critically acclaimed THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MRS. TOM THUMB. THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE, a novel about Truman Capote and his high society "Swans," will be published in January 2016.

She and her family still live in the Chicago area; when she's not writing, she's gardening, taking long walks, rooting for the Cubs--

And reading, of course.

Connect with Melanie:




I hope you will give this book a try - I loved it! Pre-order now! :)


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