Sunday, 25 January 2015

Breakfast at Tiffany's

I read a library copy of this book a while ago (pre-blog) and loved it. But since then my tastes have really changed and I've been desperate to get my own copy and re-read it to see if it lives up to my memory. So I put it on my birthday wishlist and was super excited when my brother bought it for me.

Breakfast at Tiffany's


Truman Capote


Novella, character study (though that's not really a genre...)

One-sentence summary:

The unnamed narrator tells the story of his encounter and subsequent friendship with Holly Golightly, and the various quirks, flaws and mishaps that make her who she is.


This was one of the first books I read at the start of my getting-back-into-reading phase (I think I was about 18...), where I was just beginning to discover the variety of beautifully-written, strange and wonderful books out there. I got a load of books out of the library before a week's holiday and ploughed through at least a book a day! This was one of the first of those books, all of which really opened my eyes to the world of reading as an adult. And not only that, but the book itself turned out to be so much more than I expected! Judging from my vague notions of the film (which I've never seen), I had imagined a fluffy, light romance with Holly Golightly as the quirky and fun main character. But what I got was so much more than that, and I'll never forget my first experience of the book for those reasons. That was probably why I was a little apprehensive about my re-read. What if I didn't love it as much as the first time? What if it ruined the book for me?

Well, I'm glad to say that I loved it just as much, if not more, this time around. Holly's character is deeply flawed and completely infuriating at times, but I found her fascinating just as the narrator does. The book touched on some interesting points about taking people as they are and not expecting them to change, which somehow sounds quite simplistic as I write it, but is delivered with beautiful subtlety through the narrator's (and reader's) oscillation between being fascinated by her character and infuriated by it.

There are some truly poignant moments where Holly is trying to figure out where she belongs in the world, and you get glimpses of her past which hint at a much bigger back-story. You never know exactly what she's thinking, but you get to know her as the narrator does - through a series of social interactions, and much speculation. She's just one of those characters that you can't stop thinking about, and can't work out whether you really like her or not. She's so interesting that she completely eclipses the narrator himself, which is something I didn't notice so much the first time around. He is so fascinated by Holly and her struggle to find herself, that he avoids looking at himself too closely.

Final thoughts:

Just as I can't work out how I feel about Holly, I'm finding it hard to pinpoint my feelings about this book. I know that I loved it, but I'm not sure to what extent. I think the complexity of Holly's character and my complicated feelings towards her are signs of an accomplished novel (or novella!) - over-simplistic characters aren't like real people! I still feel hesitant about recommending the book though, because I think people won't feel the same as me, especially if they've seen the film first!

How about you? Do you prefer the film? What do you think of the book? Let me know in the comments!


  1. I think this novella is wonderful and am so glad you enjoyed it too. Truman Capote is just fabulous. Have you read any of his other stuff? I would hope that despite anyone's attachment to Audrey Hepburn they could appreciate the depths the novel offers that the film simply can't...

    1. That's so great to hear! All the reviews I read on Amazon and Goodreads seemed to be full of comments on how the film was better! I'm glad to find other people out there who love this novella as much as me :) I haven't read anything else by him, and I think the only other thing I've heard of is In Cold Blood... Any other recommendations?

  2. I loved reading this a few years ago, and it's one of those books I still think about. As for the film - Audrey Hepburn is great, but there's a drunk scene in it that lasts far too long and is incredibly irritating to watch, so for that I'd say I prefer the book :)

    1. I feel exactly the same way about it - I think it will stick in my mind for a long time to come. Hmm, I haven't seen the film, but that does sound annoying! I will definitely give it a go at some point though and see what I think :)


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