The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin (Book Review)

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin (Book Review)The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin
Published by: Delacorte Press
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 368
My Rating:
Buy It Now (Affiliate Link): Buy on Amazon

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator’s Wife comes an enthralling new novel about Truman Capote’s scandalous, headline-making, and heart-wrenching friendship with Babe Paley and New York’s society “swans” of the 1950s.

Centered on two dynamic, complicated, and compelling protagonists—Truman Capote and Babe Paley—this book is steeped in the glamour and perfumed and smoky atmosphere of New York’s high society. Babe Paley—known for her high-profile marriage to CBS founder William Paley and her ranking in the International Best-Dressed Hall of Fame—was one of the reigning monarchs of New York’s high society in the 1950s. Replete with gossip, scandal, betrayal, and a vibrant cast of real-life supporting characters, readers will be seduced by this startling new look at the infamous society swans.


I probably should have known better than to pick up this book and give it a chance. I read Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin a few years ago and I had an insufferable time with it. The implications that Lewis Carroll was a pedophile and that there was an inappropriate relationship with the young girl that inspired Alice in Wonderland was difficult to stomach and I wasn’t sure how I would respond to the frivolous attitudes of the characters in The Swans of Fifth Avenue.

Now, I will admit that I didn’t love it. I read about 20% of The Swans of Fifth Avenue then I put it away. I found the characters very annoying and life is too short to spend time reading books we aren’t enjoying.

None of that is meant to be critical toward Ms. Benjamin. I can tell you that she is a great author because she writes very well, her stories are well-written, and her characters are very developed. She just doesn’t seem to write about subject matter that I personally enjoy. I find the subjects she has chosen to be tedious and frustrating to read when I’m reading for pleasure. I’ve attempted two of her books now and I have to say that despite how alluring they seem I’ll probably pass from now on.

If you enjoy the frivolous nature of the wealthy and the flamboyance of Truman Capote you’ll probably love this book. See it here.

Ashley LaMar
Ashley bounces between Atlanta, GA + Charleston, WV with her husband and two small dogs for life and work. If she’s not writing or blogging, she can usually be found cooking, reading, or watching baseball. Follow her on Twitter @ashleyfromfbl

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