Truman Capote’s classic novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s is brief, wistful and filled with a prominent sense of longing from both the unnamed narrator and Holly Golightly, the protagonist.
Published in 1958,the novella follows a year and a half in Holly Golightly’s company – something that is rare, as precious as a diamond and as sought after as a place to call home in Holly’s world. Because, for Holly Golightly, New York’s ‘it’-girl and socialite, a place she belongs is all that she really wants. After she was orphaned at a young age, married at 14 years old and ran away from that life, Holly is yet to find ‘home’, even though it seems New York is as close as she got.
Capote’s narrator is named ‘Fred’ by Miss Golightly because of the resemblance she sees with her brother Fred, who is a soldier in the army. It seems certainly for a while at the beginning of the novella that the fleeting beauty who entertains playboy millionaires and is pursued by Mafia gangsters has little to no substance. Just like ‘Fred’, all we see is a charming young woman (shockingly only 19 years old) who loves to keep herself groomed and lives each day like it’s her last. It is rare to get a glimpse of the real Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but when you do she appears vulnerable, raw and pure and you see her for the lost soul she actually is.
While there is no mistaking that Holly Golightly is extremely sure of herself, she seems to be completely unsure of where she’s going and where she belongs. In fact, she is the complete opposite to Fred who is a struggling writer in the same apartment block as ‘Holly Golightly, travelling’ which she writes on all of her cards. Capote crafts Fred to be just as much a likeable character as Golightly, perhaps slightly more due to his honesty, but a lot more mundane and ordinary.
When you read Breakfast at Tiffany’s you fall in love with Holly (just like everyone she meets does) and New York City. It is also worthy to note Capote’s impressive and simplistic style of writing which remains strong and lean throughout the novella, making it one of those books you have pleasure just observing. The ending line of Breakfast at Tiffany’s is one that captures the whole novella in a nutshell, yet is the most bittersweet one penned by Capote. But that is one you will have to read to find out…