“Would you reach in the drawer there and give me my purse. A girl doesn’t read this sort of thing without her lipstick.” –Holly Golightly
Reading Truman Capote’s short story classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s for my book club proved to be a challenge in fighting off the iconic beast of the film. Images of cats eye glasses, and long cigarette holders were pushed back to make room for a much more stripped down, nuanced, and real story. A testament to the fact that books historically have been allowed to be the truth tellers of their time, Capote’s story broaches the topics of homosexuality, miscarriage, and teen marriage with an honesty the film version could not, 1961 was after all the epicenter of the moralistically controlling Hayes Code in cinema. The film stripes the honesty of Holly, and her blunt observations, with a more polished, presentable version. I, like most, am still enraptured with Audrey Hepburn’s Holly. She uses a lot of the nuances and mannerisms from the story. But, I find the Hollywood ending, and the forced romance of the movie, to limit the scope of the book, which really is the farthest thing from a romance that you could get. It’s more of a study of people trying to find “home” in the frenetic center of a big city. It allows you to gleam a very liberated female character, flaws and all, as an honest portrayal of her time. Phony or not, Holly is one of the more intriguing characters I’ve read in some time.
Hear Truman Capote read an excerpt here.