Summertime and the Livin’ is Easy – Make Time to Read – The Swans of Fifth Avenue

I am never without a book. When I finish one, I start another. Throughout this summer of 2018,  I am writing about the books I’m reading, and only those I highly recommend. I hope you have already read The Aviator’s Wife, a novel by Melanie Benjamin, a story told through the eyes of Anne Morrow about her life with husband Charles Lindbergh. After this well-written book, I looked forward to The Swans of Fifth Avenue. I’m not sure anyone is writing better historical fiction than Melanie Benjamin where the research, characters, the sequence of events are fact, the storytelling fictionalized, This is how it is done!

The only drawback in reading this well crafted, romp through New York Society with some of its most famous, glamorous creatures and famous locales,  is spending time with Truman Capote. He took me to the edge of closing the book several times because I have no interest in him at all.  It has nothing to do with his homosexuality and everything to do with his strangeness. I have always found him unlikeable, and an often pathetic man. Nothing has changed my mind. Truman remains as a caricature of his sexuality, working hard at being gay to promote the stereotypes that were stumbling blocks for those who came after him. The dripping scarves, the awful cattiness of his remarks, his flighty, gossiping self.

Ah, but Melanie Benjamin’s writing takes you beyond all this objectionable wiredness to the heart of friendships that last a lifetime, the importance of the stories we carry for one another, growing older and what we fear.  Benjamin writes from a lifetimes fascination with New York, its setting and people; her knowledge and heart are evident, but I am in awe of her contribution to the ongoing theme – – the value of the journey as well as its destination.

Of all the characters, I was the most interested in Willaim S. Paley, founder,  CEO of CBS, advisor to President Eisenhower, the man who discovered Bing Crosby, and Edward R.Murrow. Yet, he too was taken in by Capote, as were The Swans, until he betrayed them all. The complexity of Truman Capote, who you first met as the little boy, Dill, in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, is best left there.


About Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin

Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her:
This entry was posted in Book Reviews and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Summertime and the Livin’ is Easy – Make Time to Read – The Swans of Fifth Avenue

  1. levelyn03 says:

    This is wonderful. It makes me want to read all of these. I think I will start with Jack 1939.
    So happy you are doing this blog.

  2. Rodd says:

    It was a good read. I, like you, find Capote unbearable. The Swans however–a delight!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s