27 May 2015

Review: Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

A book that became a movie

My review last week was of Rebcca by Daphne du Maurier, an audiobook of a famous story that’s had several outings on the small screen. This week I’m reviewing another audiobook, one that is perhaps even more famous for its big-screen portrayal than as a book (well, a novella).

Yes, elfin Audrey Hepburn in the iconic Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I’ve never seen the movie, but surely everyone has seen photograph of Hepburn as Holly Golightly, the girl about town who window-shops at Tiffany’s of New York to chase away the “angry reds”. When “Fred” described Holly, he could have been describing Audrey Hepburn.

There were a lot of similarities between Rebecca and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Both are told in the first person by an unnamed narrator relating events which happened years earlier (while Holly calls the narrator Fred, after her brother, we never find out his real name). Both audiobooks have excellent narrators who breathe life into the characters, and are excellent at portraying the different accents. In Breakfast at Tiffany’s, these included the somewhat reserved narrator, Holly’s breathy voice, and Sal’s earthy Jersey accent.

But there were differences. I knew where the story was taking place, and had a good idea of when. The characters were excellent, especially Holly. I never warmed to the narrator of Rebecca, but I warmed to Holly Golightly immediately—perhaps because her story was being told by someone who loved her, even if he hadn’t seen her in years and never really knew her. Holly fascinated "Fred", which meant she fascinated me as I listened.

Her character is complex. She’s young, but has a maturity beyond her years (towards the end of the story, we find out parts of her history which actually made me feel sorry for her). She is naïve in some areas, yet sophisticated in others, and it all builds up into a character we want to know more about, everything about, but never can. Because “Fred” doesn't know, because the story ends before he can find out.

Yes, I can see why Breakfast at Tiffany’s is considered a classic.

This book (audiobook) counts towards my 2015 Reading Challenge as A Book That Became a Movie.

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