Book Review: Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

(Nov 2019)

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote (25 Books in 25 Days #10) – Stuck  in a Book

This is one of Truman Capote’s most beloved works. If ever ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ is mentioned, a lot of us would think of Audrey Hepburn and her little black dress looking through the window of Tiffany’s with a pastry in hand. The image is iconic. The book, however, differs quite significantly from the movie, in terms of the aestheticism of the character and the plot. On the whole, I believe Truman Capote’s writing has more realism and the movie is a romanticized version of the book, receiving the quintessential Hollywood treatment.

The book is a great read as an accompaniment to the classic Hollywood movie. It was interesting to see the similarities and differences in how Truman pictured Holly Golightly and how Hollywood manifested the character in Audrey Hepburn’s most well-known role.

Manuscript shows how Truman Capote renamed his heroine Holly Golightly |  Truman Capote | The Guardian
Holly Golightly as played by Audrey Hepburn

However, it cannot be denied that the book is distinct in its storytelling: honest and grittier. It hasn’t the veneer of a Hollywood touch nor the artifice that comes with it. Even the ending of the book seems more fitting to Holly’s true nature. The movie, on the other hand, changed who she was – to make her character more digestible to the masses (or rather the masses in the 60’s).

You call yourself a free spirit, a “wild thing,” and you’re terrified somebody’s gonna stick you in a cage. Well baby, you’re already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it’s not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas, or in the east by Somali-land. It’s wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.

Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

The novel is a short one with a lot of humour, wit and simply not enough of Holly. Read it for Truman’s masterful writing. I recommend it unreservedly. While you read it, maybe for the 1st time, maybe for the 10th, I will be listening to Audrey’s rendition of Moon River from the movie for what is possibly the 100th time.

Parveen Kaur Harnam

Published by Parveen Kaur Harnam

Hi. My name is Parveen Kaur. I’ll start with my day job: I am a Millennial lawyer based in Kuala Lumpur. I have been in legal practice since early 2019 focusing on commercial disputes. I’ll now move on to my educational background. I graduated with a Bachelor of Laws with Honours (LL.B Hons) from the National University of Malaysia (UKM). A feature of my formative years is the two years I spent as a young child in Exeter, United Kingdom at Ladysmith Middle School where I developed a passion for reading and all things literary. In short, I have an unrequited love of literature, for secret reasons. My love, therefore, manifests in book reviews, a selection of which I have posted and will continue to post on this blog. Since 2019, I have had more than 65 essays, letters, and/or op-eds published in Malaysian English dailies, online news sites, and international news websites. The theme of these essays ranges from legal opinions, migrant rights, op-eds, current affairs, and a host of other issues. What they all have in common is that they are all on subjects to which I am connected. My interest in writing, therefore, is somewhat requited. This blog is my attempt to change the ‘somewhat’ to something more, to reach out to people. Aside from my writing, I have also been interviewed by local radio in my capacity as a lawyer, the links to which are also available on my blog. To end, I have a particular affinity for George Orwell’s writing, which I find is ever-relevant. Big Brother is indeed watching me. Contact me for a chat about anything from literature, law, Orwell, current affairs, and everything in between. Alternatively, read my articles, essays, book reviews and/or op-eds or do neither. This is a free world, after all. Not to be too Austenian but it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

  1. A nice review. Indeed ultimately we have to free ourselves from within. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is one of my favourite novellas. I also love the film and you can hear Holly aka Lulamae in Audrey Hepburn’s voice. You have to read the book to appreciate Holly’s charm, candour and quirkiness better. Holly is just restless and whimsical, looking for a place she can call home. To her, nothing bad can ever happen to you at Tiffany’s.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love how you’ve put it Lifan. Holly will always be Lulamae at heart. Her true nature is in the uniqueness and pain of her childhood. A memorable character in both forms: on paper and onscreen.


      1. Thanks, Parveen, Glad that you like how I put it. i love the novella so much that I have got 2 copies of it, one of them is a gift from a friend. Your post has prompted me to include the novella in my next post. Somehow I hardly mentioned about the novella when I search through the previous posts in my blog.


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