Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Revisited Challenge)

Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Three Stories By Truman Capote | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

Title and Author(s):  Truman Capote’s
Release Date: 1958

Publisher: Vintage

ISBN: 978-0679745655
Hours: 160
Source: Harris County Public Library 

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Reasons for Reading: Initially, I listened to this novella on audiotape. I enjoyed how more than one actor read different parts in the story. However, I considered Elizabeth Ashley of “Evening Shade” fame an odd selection for the voice of Holly Golightly. Nevertheless, I never reviewed this Truman Capote classic. When Breakfast at Tiffany’s won in the Revisited Challenge, I read a printed version.

Summary: An unnamed narrator befriends his enchanting neighbor, Holly Golightly, in the autumn of 1943. Holly insists on referring to the narrator as “Fred” because he reminds her of her older brother. “Fred” and Holly live in apartments in the same brownstone which is located in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Holly is only a eighteen or nineteen year old girl from the country. Yet, she’s turned into a cosmopolitan darling of cafe society. Holly holds no job and maintains her lifestyle by socializing with wealthy men. These men take her out on the town and shower her with money and expensive gifts. Author Capote called Holly an American geisha.

One Thing I Learned from this book: I saw the film before I read the book. I was surprised that the events of the book took place in 1943-44.

What I Liked: I liked the narrator’s tone throughout the novella. As a reader, I felt his warmth and affection, especially towards Holly Golightly.

What I Disliked: Yet, I wasn’t quite comfortable with this American geisha lifestyle.

RR - Orange  Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (3/9) Movie CLIP – Moon River (1961) 

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Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises

Audiobook read by William Hurt

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Hemingway, E., & William, H. (1926). Ernest Hemingway’s The sun also rises. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc.  9780743564410

I attempted reading this particular Hemingway novel several years ago but wasn’t in the mood. So, I added this to my “To Be Read/TBR” list and read other books. In my perpetual quest for shorter audiobooks, I stumbled upon The Sun Also Rises in the HCPL catalog. When I noticed that the narrator was William Hurt, I decided to give The Sun Also Rises another try.

Narrator Jake Barnes  is an American journalist expatriate in Paris as well as a World War I veteran.  Injuries from WWI have rendered Jake impotent. He drinks a lot and is a bullfighting aficionado.

Jake begins the novel by describing his “friend” Robert Cohn. Cohn is a rich Jewish American expatriate who, like Jake, is a writer. Cohn didn’t fight in The Great War. Facing much anti-Semitism at Princeton, Cohn has grown a chip on his shoulder; he fits right in with his contemporaries of Rive Gauche and the Lost Generation. Cohn lives with his social-climbing girlfriend Frances Clyne.

Listlessly, Cohn seeks escape and stops by Jake’s office to get him to go to South America with him. Jake turns him down and avoids Cohn as much as possible. That evening, Jake drifts through bars and clubs and eventually runs into the love of his life. The beautiful, magnetic Lady Brett Ashley is a twice-divorced Englishwoman whom Jake met during the War. Brett loves Jake but will not commit to Jake due to his impotence. Brett does not commit to any man.  Cohn sees Brett, falls for her, and an affair ensues.

All of this proves calamitous when Jake treks to Pamplona to see the bullfights. Jake’s an aficionado whereas his friends want to party. He’s joined by fellow expatriate and war veteran Bill Gorton, Brett, Cohn, and Mike Campbell, Brett’s fiancé. When the handsome bullfighter Romero enters the scene, Brett wants him. At this point, Brett has three men competing for her attention.

The writing and tragedy are exquisite. Jake’s star-crossed love is poignant; the disconnect of this group is stiffling. Jake finds himself in a bind – should he extend Brett in the form of Romero or should he remain true to the code of Spaniard bullfighting aficionados?

Four Out of Five Pearls

Places: France, Spain, The United States, The United Kingdom, Italy

Literary Ties: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “In a Station of the Metro” by Ezra Pound, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark, Ecclesiastes 1:5,

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Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

This was one of my Summer Reading Program books in 2009! Please note the Starry Night mousepad.

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Spark, M. (1999). The prime of Miss Jean Brodie. New York: Perennial Classics.

When reading another book recently, I saw a reference to Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. My interest piqued, I looked up some information on it and found that this read was less than 200 pages. That and the teacher narrative caught my attention.

Miss Jean Brodie teaches at a girls’ private school, Marcia Blaine,  in 1930s Edinburgh, Scotland. She works at the Junior School where she handpicks six girls to be what will become known as “The Brodie Set” or “The Brodie Girls.” They are Monica, Rose, Eunice, Sandy, Jenny, and Mary. With these girls in particular, Miss Brodie discusses her travels and politics as well as her amorous relationships with Mr. Lloyd, the school’s Art Master, and Mr. Lowther, the Singing Master of Marcia Blaine. She fawns over Il Duce and constantly reminds her students that she is in “her prime” and they shall benefit.  Most of her coworkers and the headmistress, Miss Mackay, detest her.  Using the prolepsis (flashfoward) technique, Spark definitely shows the reader that Miss Brodie leaves her mark on her students. Yet has she scarred them for life?

After finishing the book, I watched the movie with Dame Maggie Smith. While I found the performances amazing, I felt the film didn’t pack the wallup which I found in the book. The prolepsis was not in the film (this was pre-Lost days) and this left me disappointed. The flash forwards offered much into the psyche of Miss Brodie and her students. Seeing how these six girls landed as women was huge in the book.

In addition, the book was scarier. Themes from The Wave must have come from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.  Much of the Brodie technique falls under mind control and manipulation. The dangers of letting others do all of the thinking are huge here.

I also think Spark borrowed a little from Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. For fear of spoiling the story, even one chock full of flash forwards, I will leave that for readers to decide.

All in all, on level of prolepsis and precautionary tale, I give this 3 out of 5 pearls.

See also:

Original Time review

Arukiyomi | The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark