Book Reviews

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Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

Now for those who know me know that I am absolutely crazy for Audrey Hepburn and anything Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I was so consumed with the rewatching this movie that I decided to read the novella. I say the second time because the first time I had no idea what was going on. I asked for this book last Christmas and Santa answered. This is quite short compared to the books I have read, nevertheless it was quite enjoyable.

The book is basically about a faux socialite named Holly Golightly who’s real name is Luella Mae. She is quite idealistic in the way others look at her. She is described to be elegant and a party princess, but deep down she is quite complex . The narrator of the story is Paul Varjak, or otherwise known as Fred, he is a writer who upon meeting Holly had no idea of who she was and how much of an impact she would have on him. I see Fred throughout this short novella as a confidant to Holly, kind of like a best friend. Holly is absolutely in love with Tiffany & Co. (for those who don’t know Tiffany’s is an upscale jewelry store ). She mentions throughout the novel that any place that makes her feel like she is at Tiffany’s she would move and give her cat a name. She also mentions that when she has the “reds” going to T&Co. calms her down. She names her cat .. cat because according to her they “are a couple of no name slobs.” I will describe a little bit about that significance later.

Capote gift is by adding a rather complex and true persona to the character of Holly in other words Human. Holly in the novel is a prostitute she says when she goes to the powder room the men she is with give her $50. Holly is described as being lost; not truly knowing where she is going, a free spirit. She has no furniture in her apartment just a bathtub made out to be a sofa. Meeting Fred changed her in a way that the reader later sees toward the end of the novella. Holly showed Fred a side of her that she hadn’t been in a while bubbly, with an outgoing personality.

Holly in reality is Luella Mae, a poor young lady who was betrothed at 16. She moved to the big city to escape her past. Leaving both her husband and adopted children behind. In the historical context, she was born in the most difficult times to live in the Great Depression. Her husband, Doc comes back for her, but she tells him that she is not Lula Mae anymore, but Holly Golightly. I think Capote does an excellent job of providing a story to Holly. Nobody from just looking at her would guess that she had such a depressing past. As a reader, you begin to feel sorry for her, and it makes sense of why she is a prostitute.

Fred also has a secret he is a kept man, he is provided and cared for by a married woman and need I say a wealthy woman at that. I think in a way Capote is paralleling both Holly and Fred yes they are different, but also they know each other well with just a little time. Holly introduces Fred to the place that makes her ever so happy “Tiffany’s.” He sold a book and says as a celebratory gift that he is going to buy her something from that place. Nothing is affordable and Fred decides in engraving the Cracker Jack prize ring. With all that time spent together Fred begins to have feelings for Holly, and instead of Holly returning the feelings she rejects him. I think deep down Holly hates being alone and wants company. Holly sees Fred as a companion someone she can talk to and be herself around without worrying about the money or status. She says that Fred reminds him of her brother Fred. Holly is quite intrigued with money and being “attracted” to those with wealth and status.

Holly’s life goes into a halt when she finds out via a telegram that her brother was killed in the war. She has a breakdown throwing lamps, furniture, and even the cat. I think we see the flaws of Holly she is human she is happy and the next thing she is utterly upset. When reading this book I felt sorry for her. She wants to be this well desired socialite Holly Golightly, but deep down she is Lula Mae-broken and afraid. Also she is no longer tied to her past with the death of her brother.

In a couple chapters later, Holly meets a Brazilian diplomat and begins to adapt this new way of life by cooking Portuguese food and learning the language. Her wish is to marry José Ybarra and have a lot of little “brazilian brats.” Capote shows the dynamic character evolution from the beginning of the novella to the resolution. A scandal breaks out and Holly is involved José cancels the engagement or how we say it in today’s society- the relationship because he does not want to be involved with a scandal. Fred is there for Holly and makes sure to help her get out of jail and to stay by her side. When Fred tells Holly that José has left Holly is not pleased she is determined to find José and plead him to take her back.

In the car ride to the airport Fred is tired of trying to change her mind that he finally tells her he loves her and she says “so what.. I do not want to be put up in a cage.” Capote demonstrates in Holly’s character how frightened she really is of being in love and showing her true self to this person. She would rather be miserable then to be with someone she truly loves. The cage metaphor is the overall idea that Holly had been in a cage in the past-her marriage with Doc. She had been in a cage because she had to be a wife care for the children, cook, and clean. She finally set herself free and nobody was going to put her back. Not even someone she really cared about. Like I said Holly is broken and afraid there is no other explanation. Capote could have ended with them kissing in the rain like in the film Spoiler alert, but he didn’t end the novella in that form. Holly had left to Brazil. Holly is Luella Mae a scared little girl wishing for a different life, and broken inside. Fred hears that she is in Africa and that the end of the novella. No kiss, no hug, just a free bird ready for the next adventure (I am speaking of Holly not Fred).

This novel has a lot of interpretations, and I challenge you to read or reread it. Analyze Capote’s message the character dynamics of everyone mentioned in the novella. I think I would have liked Holly’s point of view, only as readers we see the perspective of Holly in the point of view of Fred. We never see first person what Holly was thinking.

Let me know what you think in your comments below. Thank you

I leave you with this quote: “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.”~Paul Varjak Breakfast at Tiffany’s

~Gen

 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Ok first of all if you are the type of person that watched the film first and then the movie much praise to you. If you read the book before you watched the film then your on the same boat with me. Now this will not be a rant because I do not deem my first book review to be worthy of a rant. If you’re the type of person that likes a mystery and suspense genre then I think you very much enjoyed both. If you threw your book after you read the last page then you are like me. I think the best books are the books that bring emotion either in tears, anger, or frustration. I enjoyed this book even with all the mini rants I would have with my younger sister. Here is a little background for my readers I had bought this book at B&N over the summer. I made kind of like a goal that I was going to read books that were not Nicholas Sparks related, therefore a mixture of different genres. I am not the type of person to grab a novel like this. I had also heard a lot of hype over it so I thought might as well. I didn’t end up reading it until my next semester which is around 5 months.

The beginning of the novel felt dull; Amy Dunne was describing her husband in the most unrealistic form. How her marriage was perfect and Nick was the best husband. Note: this novel or book, whatever you like to call it has two perspectives Diary Amy and Nick. A lot of flashbacks are used throughout the novel, but Flynn makes sure that reader is aware by using Amy’s perspective as a diary entry. Throughout the book I did think Nick was responsible for Amy’s disappearance, but then it seemed to easy. One of the most pit to my stomach sickening thing that was described was the cryptic scavenger hunt. Every anniversary Amy would create a scavenger hunt for Nick from her old days of working as a personality quiz designer. I disliked when I found out that Nick was a cheater. I would have liked it for him to be innocent, but I guess plot wise it wouldn’t work. The scavenger hunt involved clues, and the “places” were the clues were found were places Nick and Amy had sex. Well, those places ended up being places where Nick and his lover did the deed. Amy was framing Nick for murder, her murder. Amy developed a well executed plan of framing her husband for murder by researching case studies and watching television. She was not going to let herself be walked on, and she did something rather extreme.

In Part II, we realize that she is alive, and that Diary Amy is fake she wrote that so that the cops would find that diary and ask questions on Nick’s violent behavior. This is the part that Flynn hooked me which was about 200 pages in. I couldn’t believe that she was alive. I had thought that someone had found her diary, and that she was dead. She had made up a persona known as “Cool Amy”- a slim, physically fit, attractive, go with the flow kind of girl. A psychiatrist would diagnose Amy with multiple personality disorder for sure. Her parents had written children books based on her life they were known as “Amazing Amy.” It made me think of Judy Moody or Junie B. Jones which was a bit eerie to think in that context.  Cool Amy was not real, and she wanted Nick to rot in jail. I am skipping a lot of material, but I wanted to describe the ending. Basically Amy saves Nick from going to jail and be charged with first degree murder, which in small talk means the death penalty. He gets interviewed by Susan S. and tells her how much he misses Amy and loves her; he feels so guilty for having cheated on her. Nick spoke what Amy wanted to hear and he knew she would be watching. Before Amy comes back she has a disgusting sex scene with creepy obsessed Desi, her ex, and kills him. Nick wants to strangle her when he sees her and manages to grab her neck with full force, but doesn’t kill her. Nick is in a way trapped because if he were to leave her; he would be the most hated man. He is planning to write his own story and tell his truth; tilted “Psycho Bitch.” Amy is aware of this and as a threat she artificially inseminate’s herself with his sperm that he had supplied a couple of years ago. When he is ready to leave she rubs her belly and threatens him that he should know what she is capable if he leaves and doesn’t delete his book. There are different opinions as to why Nick stayed.

I believe Nick stayed because he didn’t want to become his dad. His dad had not been there for him; and he grew up to be tough and to hardly show affection. He didn’t want to leave his child with that murderess bitch, and so he decided the best thing for the baby would be to put up with her for 18 years. At the same time, I also believe that Nick and Amy grew to be obsessed with one another, they hated each other, but at the same time had a dynamic that was peculiar. Multiple times in the novel he said how he was falling back in love with her, and he had to remind himself that she was a murderer. In the end he stays with her, constantly living in fear of her. The last page made me so upset with her proclamation that she didn’t have anything else to say except she wanted to be the last one to write something.

Flynn succeeded using a rather stereotyped victim to end up being an antagonist. I would have never thought that the wife would have devised a plan to pin her murder on her husband.  The society roles were reversed the innocent one ended up being the husband and the guilty ended up being the wife. Flynn also shows the flaws of marriage which are realistic and common. Not everything about marriage is rainbows and butterflies, and this eternal love. This book was definitely suspenseful in the clues, the diary, the public uproar, and violence. I would have liked Nick ending the marriage either by killing her or by leaving her. The idealistic perspective of Amy was to have a perfect marriage, and nobody was going to stop her, not the authorities, not her parents, not even Nick.

I leave you with this quote from the book.

“People want to believe they know other people. Parents want to believe they know their kids. Wives want to believe they know their husbands.” ~ Amy Dunne Gone Girl

Thank you for reading and if you have comments leave them below.

~Gen

“Unconditional love is an undisciplined love and, as we all have seen, undisciplined love is disastrous.”

~Amy Dunne Gone Girl 

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