DNF Review: The Swans of Fifth Avenue

Melanie Benjamin - The Swans of Fifth Avenue 
Expected publication: January 26, 2016 by Delacorte Press
Pages: 368
Genres: Adult, Historical Fiction
Find on: Amazon, Goodreads, Book Depository
Rating: N/A. (No rating. DNF, remember?)

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator’s Wife comes an enthralling new novel about Truman Capote’s scandalous, headline-making, and heart-wrenching friendship with Babe Paley and New York’s society “swans” of the 1950s.

Centered on two dynamic, complicated, and compelling protagonists—Truman Capote and Babe Paley—this book is steeped in the glamour and perfumed and smoky atmosphere of New York’s high society. Babe Paley—known for her high-profile marriage to CBS founder William Paley and her ranking in the International Best-Dressed Hall of Fame—was one of the reigning monarchs of New York’s high society in the 1950s. Replete with gossip, scandal, betrayal, and a vibrant cast of real-life supporting characters, readers will be seduced by this startling new look at the infamous society swans.

DNF @ 20%

Because absolutely not.

I'm all for historical fiction. Just look at my TBR. It's monstrous in all its might. Obviously, when I heard of this little mystical historical wonder here, I jumped for it. New York society life. The '50s.

The story takes place in the early '50s. Truman Capote takes great pride in his "swans," who are unfortunately not gorgeous birds but women he enjoys gossiping with, Babe, Slim, Pamela, Marella, Gloria, and C.Z. He attends their parties, dines at their houses while their husbands are away, and partakes in plenty of shopping. Life is swell.

Believe me, I usually love anything associated with NYC society. I'm a big fan of Gossip Girl, but these people were so petty. Truman would dine at Babe's house and laugh with her, all friendly-like, then he'd visit another friend and talk massive shit about her.

In another irk-worthy scene, Babe's husband, William, who just so happens to be the founder of CBS, returns home after a strenuous day. Truman happens to be there. Babe worries whether she should wash her face and put on a whole new face of makeup to appease her man, but Truman insists she's fine. Seems fine, yes? Truman decides to stay for dinner, so when Babe decides to dote on her husband, offering him hors d'oeuvres and a foot massage, Truman is disgusted by the woman she's become and how his "Goddess turned into a mere housewife." Also, he gaslights her when she admits to having caretakers watch her children.

Like, who even are you? Truman gossips with a plethora of woman each day and has the nerve to pick on a happily-married woman? Please, save me the drama.

Though the writing is lovely, it's somewhat exaggerated. The constant celebrity name-dropping was unnecessary. I also could've done without 600% of their appearances and all the defamation, but it's cool. Good writing, nonetheless. Just a terrible cast.



  1. "Because absolutely not" is the BEST reason I have ever heard for DNFing! I love it! And yeah, it sounds kind of awful. I mean, he just gossips and name drops all day, and then judges his own friends? Not surprising I guess. What's the saying, something about "If people gossip TO you, they will gossip ABOUT you"? Seriously though, sounds like a real pack of winners ;) At least the writing was good, but good thing you put the kibosh on this in a hurry!
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

    1. A quote for the ages, heehee. My first DNF of the year, too! Way horrid. Could only wonder if the real Truman was like that. I've never heard of that quote, omg, but how true! It makes me think of The Great Gatsby for some reason!


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