You have probably heard of ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’. The movie poster with Audrey Hepburn in a sleek black dress is one of the most iconic images of 20th century Hollywood.
But surprisingly not many people know of Truman Capote’s novella by the same name on which the movie is based.
The movie is popular than the book, and considering Capote’s original story is a little removed from the sweet romance that’s shown in the 1961 film adaptation, it’s easy to understand why. The book is a little dark and doesn’t have the movie’s happy ending.
But I love reading Breakfast at Tiffany’s for the images it sparks in my mind. Capote’s descriptions of people and places make me nostalgic about things I didn’t even know could make me wistful in the first place.
My well-thumbed copy of Capote’s ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ is a Penguin Essentials edition published in 2011. The pretty blue and pink cover of this particular book instantly cheers me up and, over the years, I have turned to it whenever I needed a quick pick-me-up.
In Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a contemporary writer recalls his early days in New York City, when he makes the acquaintance of a remarkable 19-year-old girl, Holly Golightly, who lives in the same block as him. Holly is an actress turned socialite who hosts parties in her small apartment while receiving a string of wealthy albeit unappealing men.
Holly is an interesting character. She loves easily and leaves just as easily. She gets angry quickly and forgives fast. She can buy expensive things for herself, yet wants to be spoiled with lavish gifts. Eventually she gets into some trouble and flees and our narrator, Fred, pines over the postcards she sends him.
This is a cute, fun story that was scandalous when it was first published but today makes you feel like all your actions are justified as long as you are happy. Holly’s behavior wouldn’t be a cause of much shock in the current times but a female protagonist like her was unheard of when the book was written. Much of the story is also about the masks we put on to fit in and the worlds we create in our heads for a sense of belonging.
There is a lot going on in this tiny novella. I’m sure what you take away from it will be different than what, say, your friend does. On a lighter note, for me, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is also a comforting place that reminds me of a time, pre Covid-19, when parties happened on a whim and people came and went as they pleased.