While the film may be more well known, Breakfast at Tiffany’s first appeared in 1958 as a novella by Truman Capote. The story focuses on Holly Golightly, a charismatic young woman with a mysterious past with whom many suitors have become captivated. As different books are appropriate in different situations, the purpose of Papers and Airplanes Book Club Reviews is to determine a book’s suitability for book clubs. Today’s focus is Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
The novella’s narrator is a writer living in New York City who was once a neighbor of Holly Golightly. The reader only knows him as “Fred,” a name Holly gives him for his resemblance to her brother. This demonstrates just how much power she has in this narrative; we only know the narrator’s based on how Holly refers to him, even though he is telling the story. At the time the tale begins, Holly’s whereabouts have been unknown to the narrator for some time. A mutual friend believes he has evidence of where she might be and contacts “Fred,” thus inspiring him to tell the story of Holly.
On the surface Holly is beautiful and charming. She spends her time out on the town, weaving her place into the city’s society, and paying visits to Sing Sing Prison. Holly seems to exude an effortless glamor, and while she has a carousel of acquaintances at her beck and call, she keeps them all at arm’s length. Holly claims to be a wild thing; she hates to see anything in a cage for fear of becoming caged herself. She clings to her independence, preferring permanent travel to settling down. As the story goes on, however, the cracks in her glamorous facade emerge. It appears the thing she may want most is a place to feel at home, a place that makes her feel the way Tiffany’s does.
This is a great book to choose for your book club for many reasons. First, as a novella, it’s short, so most people will have the time to read it. Second, the story is interesting and written well, so there are many things to discuss in terms of plot and craft. Third, with such a famous film based on the book, that opens up plenty of opportunities for comparing and contrasting. For instance, in the film, Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly is as enchanting as could be. On paper, however, she is not so likable. Additionally, many parts of the story are changed slightly between the book and the film, particularly with the relationship between “Fred,” who is called Paul in the movie, and Holly. Finally, as Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a common party theme, there are plenty of decorations and such to give your book club meeting an extra lift.
Therefore, in short, yes, your book club should read Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The book is great, the film is lovely, and it makes for a great party theme. So grab some pastries and start mixing up mimosas, there’s plenty to chat about when it comes to Holly Golightly.
Papers and Airplanes Book Club Reviews are based on the readings and musings of the writer’s book club meetings in Los Angeles.