Capote’s Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era

Laurence Leamer. Putnam, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-0-5933-2808-8
Biographer Leamer (The Kennedy Women) showcases his knack for telling a rattling good tale in this vivid look at Truman Capote’s failed attempt to write “the greatest novel of the age.” The characters of his unrealized novel, Answered Prayers, were inspired by a circle of fabulously wealthy New York women into which Capote had ingratiated himself, each of whom is brought to life in Leamer’s vibrant prose. Among Capote’s coterie of amusing “swans” was his “guru,” Barbara Paley, who taught him how “to get easy entrance into the homes of the anointed”; Slim Hayward, the timid wife of one of Hollywood’s leading producers; Gloria Guinness, whose singular goal was to “sit atop the swirling social world”; and Lee Radziwill, the aggrieved younger sister of Jackie Kennedy. Leamer’s breathless storytelling vividly details how Capote cultivated the trust of these women to “give Answered Prayers a veracity and insider perspective unlike any other modern novel about the rich.” While he failed to actually write the novel, in 1975 Esquire published an excerpt of it that shared his flock’s secrets without their permission. The women, enraged that Capote had “betrayed them in a display of appallingly bad manners,” cut off all ties to him, a move that signaled the beginning of the end of his career. This juicy story delivers. Agent: David Halpern, The Robbins Office. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 06/24/2021
Release date: 10/12/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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