Home > Book, classic, Genre, historic, Review > Book Review: Breakfast at Tiffany’s: A Short Novel and Three Stories by Truman Capote

Book Review: Breakfast at Tiffany’s: A Short Novel and Three Stories by Truman Capote

Image of a broken plate and fork on a book cover.Summary:
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
A nameless narrator recalls the eccentric 19 year old neighbor he once had in New York City–Holiday Golightly.  He reflects on their friendship of just over one year, and wonders where she is now.

“House of Flowers”
Ottilie works as a prostitute in Port Au Prince. She lives in a beautiful house with fine things, but one day at a cock fight, she falls in love and leaves the city for the country with her new husband. Will she regret her decision?

“A Diamond Guitar”
A man in prison for 99 years plus 1 day in a tropical location is well-respected by the other prisoners for his ability to read. One day, a new inmate arrives serving a 2 year sentence. He is young, beautiful, and can play the guitar wonderfully.

“A Christmas Memory”
A man recalls his early Christmases spent with an older relative who had never wandered far from home, but had a love of life the other adults in his family mistook for a bad influence.

I read this book due to watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s (review) and really enjoying it.  Various friends told me they were curious to know my reaction to the different ending in the book, so I decided to read it.

Capote’s strength as a writer is in setting the scene.  I could vividly picture the scenes in every single story, despite their vastly different settings.  This is what made the stories readable in spite of their plotlines being not particularly my cup of tea.  I felt that Capote just approached the edge of something phenomenal, biting, and truthful, but then stopped.  Stories that could have been touching and powerful were therefore decidedly average.

What I loved about the movie version of Breakfast at Tiffany’s is that it took a loving look at someone with mental issues and showed how she could get better.  There is none of that hope in the short novel.  Holly comes off entirely as someone out to use other people, and there is an unforgivable scene with her cat.  I came away hating Holly, whereas I felt I was made to understand a possibly unlikable person in the film.  This made the short novel quite disappointing and is exemplary of everything I disliked in this collection of Capote’s works.

That said, his writing style is highly readable, and I enjoyed the message in “A Christmas Memory” very much, even if the title is entirely uncreative.

My advice to any who love the film is to skip this if they wish their opinion of the characters to remain untarnished.  Those who enjoy mid 20th century American short fiction will enjoy this collection, however.

3 out of 5 stars

Source: PaperBackSwap

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  1. May 19, 2010 at 2:30 am

    I’ve always been intrigued to read some Capote but this hasn’t really sold it to me. The idea of having my cherished memories of Breakfast at Tiffany’s ruined is horifying lol.

    • May 19, 2010 at 7:41 am

      Well, you could always skip Breakfast at Tiffany’s and read the other stuff by him. In Cold Blood is his most famous besides Tiffany’s. However, I have to say, his writing didn’t live up the hype. I wonder if he gets the hype because of his lifestyle, which at the time was quite unique.

  2. opheliasdaisies
    May 19, 2010 at 8:04 am

    I never saw the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but I loved the book. I really should go back and re-read it, it’s been a while. I wonder what I’d think of the movie, having had read the book first.

    • May 19, 2010 at 8:09 am

      You’re certainly the first person I’ve heard of who’s read the book but has yet to see the movie!

  3. opheliasdaisies
    May 19, 2010 at 8:36 am

    What can I say, I’m a contrarian. 😛 Reading the book, without being able to compare it to the movie, I remember liking Holly, actually. I remember her as being very complex. Not a bad person, really, more just a good person who ended up in less-than-ideal situations. I didn’t think she was out to use people, more that she was lonely and didn’t really know how to connect, so she resorted to getting attention/affection the only ways she knew.

    • May 19, 2010 at 9:58 am

      Yes, stealing your friend’s boyfriend, living on money given to you by men you date (basically being a whore), and abandoning your cat in the alley, all with little to no signs of true remorse are all signs of a good person who is at the whim of unfortunate circumstances. *rolls eyes*

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