A Dazzling Book: Step Back in Time with Truman Capote & His Swans

I have been on a Truman Capote bender lately, inspired by this intriguing book called Capote’s Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era, written by Laurence Leamer.

It is neither a new book (published in 2021 — I’m not in the business of late breaking news over here on Trip Vignette – lol), nor a new subject — Capote, his high profile female friendships, and ultimate downfall from society — but I found myself immersed in this story about which so much has been written.

I was initially doubtful that anything new or interesting could be told about Capote but I was wrong. Capote’s Women is a page turner…the kind of book that makes you annoyed at all the everyday life tasks you have to do because you just want to get back to the book, its characters and their lives.

Season Two of the FX show called the “Feud” is in the works and will be based on this novel – “an all-new, star-studded installment called Capote’s Women, with the focus on the falling out between notorious writer Truman Capote and several of his female friends, including Ann Woodward, Babe Paley, CZ Guest, Gloria Guinness, Joanne Carson and Slim Keith.”

They have an incredible lineup to play the roles of the swans, including Naomi Watts, Calista Flockhart, Chloë Sevigny, Demi Moore, Diane Lane, and Molly Ringwald. Tom Hollander is playing Capote – I think he will be amazing. I am not sure when it is coming out but I will be in touch on my Instagram account.

Capote’s Women describes a life of glamour, aspirational style, extreme wealth, pretending, intolerance, and societal rules.

I highly recommend reading it and in the meantime here’s a bit of inspiration and other resources should you decide to go down the Truman Capote rabbit hole as I did over the holiday break.

“In this delicious dissection of the writer and the women he befriended, Laurence Leamer uncovers what it meant to let Capote into your inner circle, how each of these women found friendship and frustration with him, and what happened when he committed the ultimate betrayal.”

town and country
Naomi Watts will portray Babe Paley in the FX show based on the book.
The Capote Tapes on Hulu – “The movie is structured around a series of audio interviews that late writer-journalist George Plimpton recorded while working on a 1990’s-era biography of the “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “In Cold Blood” author.”
Capote: Philip Seymour Hoffman won an Oscar for his portrayal of Capote in this 2006 film – “In 1959, Truman Capote learns of the murder of a Kansas family and decides to write a book about the case. While researching for his novel In Cold Blood, Capote forms a relationship with one of the killers, Perry Smith, who is on death row.”
Infamous: This 2006 version of Capote is marvelous — much more lighthearted and I love Toby Jones’ portrayal of Capote. So many stars that you know — Sigourney Weaver, Gywneth Paltrow, Hope Davis, Sandra Bullock, among others portray his swans and inner circle. It is a serious film but humorous as well.
Capote and his number one swan, Babe Paley.
The one and only Black and White Ball at The Plaza Hotel, also know as the greatest party of all time. The New York Times published the guest list (only 540 guests) so if you weren’t one of the lucky invitees, there was no pretending that you were.
50 Years Ago Truman Capote Hosted the Best Party Ever – Truman pictured here with his guest of honor, Katharine Graham. Graham was not a swan but was nevertheless a fascinating subject herself having been the CEO and editor of The Washington Post from 1972-1991. She wrote a sensational book (Winner of a Pulitzer Prize) about her life, her time at The Washington Post (including breaking and overseeing the Watergate scandal) and as a Washingtonian hostess called Personal History.
This is a European princess on the left and that is a diamond on her forehead – apparently two security guards followed her around the entire night.
Capote and the beautiful Lee Radziwill, Jacqueline Kennedy’s sister.
Calista Flockhart will play Lee Radziwill in the FX series.
The ultimate swan, Babe Paley.
Truman Capote and Babe and Bill Paley at the one and only Round Hill, Jamaica where they spent a lot of time.
C.Z. Guest – the only Swan that stood by him after his tell-all essay, La Côte Basque, was published.
Gloria Guiness, VIP Swan
A young Truman living in Monroeville, Alabama with his beloved Aunt Sook (and of course you know I love that Alabama connection along with his best friend and our pride and joy, Harper Lee.)
Capote was a writer, but also a performer, a master of self-invention, and ultimately “dangerous” and “tiring” at the end.
Capote only published three chapters of his last novel, “Answered Prayers” – some speculate he never finished it at all despite his claims that it existed, even at his death. His closest friends, however, do think it exists in a safety deposit box or somewhere else and that it will turn up one day. Who knows…
The ultimate performer and attention seeker.
In Cold Blood is a nonfiction masterpiece, Definitely worth the read if you never got around to it in high school or college. This was the original true crime story.
Of course we all know the film version staring Audrey Hepburn, but Capote’s short story was not about a socialite, but rather a high end call girl in NYC.
La Grenouille — A Perfect Swan Luncheon. Sadly, many of the old Capote/Swans stomping grounds –La Côte Basque, 21 Club — are now closed but if you want a taste of their New York, La Grenouille is the spot.
La Grenouille is known for their magnificent flowers. If you ever get the chance to go, jump.
The (now closed) 21 Club. You may recall this is where Holly Golightly gets $50 to go to the powder room.
Also pay a visit to The Carlyle Hotel for a taste of old school New York.
The Carlyle Hotel : And while staying at the hotel, pay a visit to Bemelman’s Bar and Cafe Carlyle, “A lasting favorite of socialites, politicians and business moguls, this intimate Upper East Side cabaret venue hosted Bobby Short for 36 years. Today, Steve Tyrell, Woody Allen and other celebrity guests perform regularly. And the menu by James Sakatos—formerly of Dumonet—is filled with versatile dishes that combine haute French and traditional American ingredients. Café Carlyle may not be easy on the wallet, but experiencing Woody Allen on the clarinet is well worth the expense.”
Having a drink at The Nines bar would round out a perfect Capote-style NYC weekend.

“Laurence Leamer deftly tells the stories of the stylish, glamorous women whose trust Capote cultivated and then betrayed. Mr. Leamer has delivered a fast-paced, sensitive tale of the swans, their tumultuous lives and their dismay at Capote’s treachery.”

wall street journal

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