One of my resolutions this year is to rekindle my love affair with books. As an English teacher, you would think I had oodles of time to read. Wrong. Until diving headfirst into Reader’s Writer’s Workshop this semester, time to read was as scarce as winter weather in Texas this year. Now, I’m in full workshop mode in my classes, which means I get to read with my kids everyday! 10 minutes at the beginning of every class, every single day! And guess what? My kids are just as excited about it as I am!
So when 2017 hit, like my kids, I set a reading goal– My personal goal is to read about one book every week and a half. I plan to read 15 books before this school year ends, and I’m taking you along for the wild literary ride!
As of 1/12, I am one book closer to my goal. I finished The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin–even though I welcomed many distractions in those last 30 pages because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. You know that feeling? When you can sense a book is winding down… it turns philosophical, and you feel that tug in your heart because you know it is ending, and you’ll have to say goodbye to the characters, and you know you’ll miss them; you always do. Well, this book was no different.
All I can say is that if you have any kind of fascination with New York, high fashion, high society, or Truman Capote and other celebrities of the time, this historical fiction book is for YOU! Growing up, one of my favorite movies to watch with my mom was Breakfast at Tiffany’s (written by Truman Capote), and one of my favorite books is To Kill a Mockingbird (written by Harper Lee- childhood friend to Truman Capote, whom the character Dill in the novel is supposedly modeled after). I also have always been drawn to the idea of New York- so naturally, this book screamed “Pick me!” from The Biggest Historical Fiction Books of 2016.
It didn’t disappoint. I found myself wanting more throughout the ENTIRE book. Benjamin tells the story of Truman Capote and his “Swans”, as he called them- Babe Paley, Slim Keith, and the other “it” women of New York in the 1950’s. The novel follows Truman’s career and focuses specifically on his special relationship with Babe Paley, wife of Bill Paley, CEO of CBS, and reveals the controversy surrounding Capote’s final story that proved to be his demise. Benjamin blends historically accurate facts with fictional dialogue and details to create a masterful plot that puts you in the middle of the gossip with the most popular clique of the time.
I’m sad it is over because Truman Capote was such a richly colorful character- I mean obviously the brain behind the Holly Golightly had to be a little quirky, right?
But, as much as I want to wallow in my grief over the loss of Babe and Truman, I don’t have time. I’ve got a lot of characters to meet and places to explore.