I’ve never watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s and knew nothing about the storyline. So I had little expectations when I bought the book, from which the movie was adapted, at a secondhand bookshop.

Published by Penguin Books, the book featured four short stories by Truman Capote: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, House of Flowers, A Diamond Guitar, and A Christmas Memory. I enjoyed this collection, particularly the first and last stories, which provided intimate portrayals of its characters. The prose is beautiful. Simple yet intense.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s lingered with me after I finished the novella. I had expected the tale to be a lighthearted one – based on the blissful, stylish movie stills with Audrey Hepburn. Instead, I found it rather sad and the ending made my heart ache.

The ‘original’ Holly Golightly is a complex individual. Sometimes, she seems like a pragmatic gold-digger. Other times, she seems naive and unrealistically hopeful. Narrated by a struggling writer, who’s never named but was called “Fred” by Holly, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a loving tribute to a long-lost friend.

Then I made her a promise, I said I’d come back and find her cat: ‘I’ll take care of him, too. I promise.’ She smiled: that cheerless new pinch of a smile. ‘But what about me? she said, whispered and shivered again. ‘I’m very scared, Buster. Yes, at last. Because it could go on forever. Not knowing what’s yours until you’re thrown it away.

A Christmas Memory is an autobiographical account of Capote’s childhood growing up in rural Alabama. Set in the 1930s, the story revolves around a young boy and an elderly woman who is his relative and best friend. This short, poignant tale is my favourite of the collection – a touching and nostalgic remembrance of a lonely, kind woman who tried to give the best to her little friend in spite of not having much.

It’s always the same: a morning arrives in November, and my friend, as though officially inaugurating the Christmas time of year that exhilarates her imagination and fuels the blaze of her heart, announces: ‘It’s fruitcake weather! Fetch our buggy. Help me find my hat.”

Prior to reading this collection of short stories, I had only read one other book by Capote: In Cold Blood, a gripping account about the brutal murder of a family in Kansas. Having read a few of his fictional and non-fictional works, I’m sure I’ll be reading more of his stories.

Are there any other books by Capote that you would recommend?

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4 replies on “Truman Capote: Breakfast at Tiffany’s + A Christmas Memory

  1. I’ve never quite made it through the whole movie of Breakfast at Tiffany’s but saw enough to see that it was on the heavy side. I guess it became so famous because Audrey Hepburn portrayed this very complex character beautifully and made her lovable. I’m not enticed to watch the whole movie, but you made me want to read the whole story now.

    1. I read up on the movie after I finished the book to see if it was a close adaptation. The ending in the film is completely different – it had a happily ever after ‘Hollywood’ ending.

      It was also interesting to learn that Truman Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe to play Holly Golightly and said:“Paramount double-crossed me in every way and cast Audrey.”

  2. The movie and the novella are very different!! But I love both. The movie as a movie, the book as a book. I like short stories, as well. I read this collection seven years ago.
    Other books I’d recommend, would be “Other Voices, Other Rooms” and “Summer Crossing” (his very 1st novel, though not published till recently) Read these a some years ago, as well!!
    Of course “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is my favourite!! Love the narrative!!

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