“What I found does the most good is just to get into a taxi and go to Tiffany's. It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. ”
Even if you have never read the book or haven’t gotten round to seeing the film, I’m sure you’ll have some vague idea of what I’m talking about when I mention the title ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’. Whether it is the lulling tones of ‘Moon River’ or the iconic image of Audrey Hepburn sprawled on the floor with a cigarette dangling from her slender fingers, it’s possible that we can all recognise the name ‘Holly Golightly’ and recognise that it is ‘Tiffany’s’ of which we’re referring. I haven’t seen the film personally, but it’s on my list of things to watch (I like lists, if you hadn’t already noticed) and am looking forward to it after reading the book and being captivated by the mystery of Holly Golightly and New York in the ‘40’s.
Meet Holiday Golightly. Effortlessly stylish, hopelessly romantic, free spirited and lives life as she pleases- Truman Capote’s most famous character and a cultural icon all over the world. Beautiful, effervescent, flighty and always game for a good party, she is the embodiment of the careless naivety of youth. Never stopping, ever roaming; she runs into the narrator, whom she quickly names “Fred” after her older brother, in passing at their Manhattan apartment block and changes his life irrevocably. He is caught up in his infatuation for her and she is happy for him to tag along while she plays hostess to gangsters and millionaires at a price. Capote himself was cited as saying that his heroine was an ‘American Geisha’ instead of a prostitute given her liaisons with wealthy, older men. Though she doesn’t sleep with them; instead, she merely lets them buy her expensive gifts and in return makes them feel special and appreciated in a way their wives have neglected to. An aspiring actress in the meantime, Holly dreams of escaping from her humble roots and troubled past in Texas as the lowly Lula Mae Barnes (her real name, though one which she changed just as soon as she could) to find somewhere she can truly call home, a place that can make her feel as Tiffany’s does. Of this, she never loses sight.
Holly Golightly is by far the best thing in this book, swathing through and leaving her more of a mark in a single sentence than any other character could do in pages upon pages of dialogue and description alike. She leaves a lasting effect on the reader, imaging if such a person actually exacts somewhere on the fire escape of a Manhattan apartment, strumming idly at a guitar. There was plenty to like about Truman Capote’s novella: the sharp wit and exuberant characters were entertaining enough and would surely be a guilty pleasure for many who need a break to dip into the strange, chic world of war-time America and in particular the heroine’s quirky social circle. I personally found the book slightly girly, a real chick-flick of the book variety that would probably appeal more to girls than it would to the male gender but each to his/her own, after all. If you can overlook these minor quibbles then you may have found your next weekend read- the kind that you can delve into with a box of chocolates and a bubble bath waiting to relieve the stress of work and school.
Though it may not be as cerebral as ‘The Stranger’ or as riveting as ‘Bring Up the Bodies’, ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ is a good book- just so long as you’re in the mood.
‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ is available on Amazon in paperback (£5.59) and is not currently available on Kindle.