Top positive review
"No one MARRIES Pam Churchill..."
23 June 2018
I loved this book. It's in first place for my favorite book of 2018, already, and I expect it to stay in first place. "Swan Song" by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott is a tour-de-force that has absolutely blown me away. Okay, I loved this book...but will you?
"Swan Song" is about Truman Capote and his six "swans" - CZ Guest, Babe Paley, Marella Agnelli, Slim Keith, Lee Radziwill, and Gloria Guiness. Of course, other ladies like Nelle Lee and Truman's mother, Nina (born Lillie Mae), and Katherine Graham, make appearances in the book, but most of Greenberg-Jephcott's writing is about the Swans. The book is long, and each swan is given her own back story and special relation to Capote. Most important to Capote were his deep friendships with Slim Keith and Babe Paley, but all the women "got" Capote. They not only "got" Capote but they were carried away with his implied promise of discretion when they gifted him with their own secrets, and, in some case, the secrets of others.
And many of those secrets were exposed in 1975 in his book excerpt, "La Cote Basque 1965", printed in "Esquire". Terribly pained by the public airing of what was really (and literally) "dirty linen", the six Swans cut loose Capote and he spent the last nine years of his life trying to recover their friendship, and his own mental equilibrium. He regained nothing and died in Joanne Carson's guest cottage in a crappy ranch house in Los Angeles in 1984.
Who were the "swans" Truman Capote loved so dearly and yet had no trouble betraying in print? I thought Babe Paley and Slim Keith were the most interesting, but then I've read biographies of Babe Paley and an autobiography by Slim Keith, so maybe I know them better than I know the others. Greenberg-Jephcott repeats the old chestnut about Pamela Digby Churchill Hayward Harriman, who was famous for her affairs with other women's husbands. "No one MARRIES Pam Churchill" was said by women who were startled when Pam went after Slim's husband, Leland Hayward...and she caught him.
Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott's novel is filled with glimpses of fascinating people of New York and European society and in the small towns of Alabama. The book is a biography of Truman Capote as seen through the eyes and actions of people important in his life. If you're not interested in the milieu Greenberg-Jephcott has written about, then perhaps you won't like "Swan Song". This is a book you should read every review on both Amazon and Goodreads you can.