The Swans of Fifth Avenue
by Melanie Benjamin

Overview - NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - The author of The Aviator's Wife returns with a triumphant new novel about New York's "Swans" of the 1950s--and the scandalous, headline-making, and enthralling friendship between literary legend Truman Capote and peerless socialite Babe Paley.  Read more...

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More About The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - The author of The Aviator's Wife returns with a triumphant new novel about New York's "Swans" of the 1950s--and the scandalous, headline-making, and enthralling friendship between literary legend Truman Capote and peerless socialite Babe Paley.

People's Book of the Week - USA Today's #1 "New and Noteworthy" Book - Entertainment Weekly's Must List - LibraryReads Top Ten Pick

Of all the glamorous stars of New York high society, none blazes brighter than Babe Paley. Her flawless face regularly graces the pages of Vogue, and she is celebrated and adored for her ineffable style and exquisite taste, especially among her friends--the alluring socialite Swans Slim Keith, C. Z. Guest, Gloria Guinness, and Pamela Churchill. By all appearances, Babe has it all: money, beauty, glamour, jewels, influential friends, a prestigious husband, and gorgeous homes. But beneath this elegantly composed exterior dwells a passionate woman--a woman desperately longing for true love and connection.

Enter Truman Capote. This diminutive golden-haired genius with a larger-than-life personality explodes onto the scene, setting Babe and her circle of Swans aflutter. Through Babe, Truman gains an unlikely entr e into the enviable lives of Manhattan's elite, along with unparalleled access to the scandal and gossip of Babe's powerful circle. Sure of the loyalty of the man she calls "True Heart," Babe never imagines the destruction Truman will leave in his wake. But once a storyteller, always a storyteller--even when the stories aren't his to tell.

Truman's fame is at its peak when such notable celebrities as Frank and Mia Sinatra, Lauren Bacall, and Rose Kennedy converge on his glittering Black and White Ball. But all too soon, he'll ignite a literary scandal whose repercussions echo through the years. The Swans of Fifth Avenue will seduce and startle readers as it opens the door onto one of America's most sumptuous eras.

Praise for The Swans of Fifth Avenue

"Exceptional storytelling . . . teeming with scandal, gossip and excitement."--Harper's Bazaar

"This moving fictionalization brings the whole cast of characters back to vivid life. Gossipy and fun, it's also a nuanced look at the beauty and cruelty of a rarefied, bygone world."--People

"The era and the sordid details come back to life in this jewel of a novel."--O: The Oprah Magazine

  • ISBN-13: 9780345528704
  • ISBN-10: 0345528700
  • Publisher: Bantam
  • Publish Date: October 2016
  • Page Count: 400
  • Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.65 pounds

Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Historical - General

BookPage Reviews

Book clubs: High-society friends

Melanie Benjamin, the bestselling author of The Aviator’s Wife, offers another beautifully crafted historical novel with The Swans of Fifth Avenue. In this hypnotic mix of fact and fiction, Benjamin looks back at the friendship of Truman Capote and glamorous socialite Babe Paley. Impeccable in dress and manners, with a high-profile husband—media magnate William Paley, head of CBS—Babe leads a life that on the surface seems picture perfect. In reality, though, she’s a lonely woman in need of connection, which she finds, unexpectedly, in the mischievous, gossip-loving Truman. The two grow close, but when Truman betrays Babe’s confidence by publishing a story about her unhappy marriage, she ends their relationship. Benjamin’s account of their friendship and falling out is dazzling from start to finish. Through crisp dialogue and a glorious cast of characters that includes Frank Sinatra, Rudolph Nureyev and Katharine Graham, she brings a lost era to vivid life. Brisk, stylish and fully realized, Swans is one of Benjamin’s best.

One of the most talked-about books of 2015, Submission, the sixth novel from French author and critic Michel Houellebecq, is an electrifying parody of international politics. Election season 2022 finds François, an instructor at New Sorbonne University, at a dead end. His academic work is at a standstill, and he’s been sleeping with his students. When an Islamic leader named Mohammed Ben-Abbes wins France’s presidential election, life takes a surreal turn. Fearing a surge of anti-Semitism, Myriam, François’ Jewish girlfriend, flees to Israel. At New Sorbonne, only Muslims are allowed to teach, and a number of François’ fellow professors convert to Islam. In this strange new world, François must find his footing and make daunting decisions about his life. Darkly comic and provocative, Houellebecq blends fictional figures with real people, including Marine Le Pen and François Hollande. Houellebecq’s sophisticated wit, command of global politics and understanding of human motivation add up to a classic satire. This timely novel is sure to get book groups talking.

Elizabeth Strout delivers a poignant look at the complexities of parental ties and the need for human connection in My Name Is Lucy Barton. Lucy left behind a difficult past in small-town Illinois to become a writer in New York City. As she recuperates in the hospital after an operation, her long-estranged mother pays a visit—and stays for five days. The two reconnect, sharing memories and catching up on gossip, but they avoid discussing sensitive family-related issues and Lucy’s literary success. Looking back on the visit, Lucy forgives these omissions and lays the past to rest. Her relationship with her mother forms the core of the novel, which Lucy narrates in a voice that’s both precise and poetic. Strout, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Olive Kitteridge, is a writer who gets better with each book.


This article was originally published in the November 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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