Laurence Leamer, author of 'Capote's Women,' recommends these books if you can't wait for the next episode of Ryan Murphy's 'Feud'
A group of socialites who all but ran New York City in the 1960s and 1970s. A brutal betrayal and a disgraced author. And that's before we even get into the retro fashion. Ryan Murphy's Feud: Capote vs. The Swans follows the delicious true-life drama between author Truman Capote and his group of uber-rich friends, who he nicknamed the Swans.
The eight-episode limited series — which premiered on Jan. 31 — is based on the bestselling book Capote’s Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era by Laurence Leamer.
The Swans, which included socialites Barbara “Babe” Paley, Nancy "Slim" Keith, C.Z. Guest and Lee Radziwill, flitted between the most major parties of the time. Capote built his entire persona around his association with them, but after his attempts to turn their secrets into a book came to light, their relationship never recovered.
Hooked? Delve even further with Leamer's book and other recommended reading on the subject, while you wait for the next installment of Feud.
'Capote’s Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era' by Laurence Leamer
If you want to know what really happened between Capote and his Swans, you can't do better than Leamer's book. It follows the salacious story behind Answered Prayers, the book Capote was trying to write about his so-called friends, and the shocking betrayal that led to his downfall.
'Capote: A Biography' by Gerald Clarke
Once you've been bitten by the Capote bug, pick up this definitive biography of the late writer. According to Leamer, the author had "unprecedented access" to Capote in his last years. "It's so good a book that nobody's ever tried [to write another one]," Leamer says. "It's the definitive book. It's that good."
'Breakfast at Tiffany's' by Truman Capote
Next, read Capote's account of Holly Golightly, who Leamer calls "in a way, the first swan." The movie fictionalized her story, of course, so read the book to see where the iconic Audrey Hepburn character draws inspiration. "We've got a beautiful young woman who seeks to find a rich husband and the movie turned it into a fantasy," he explains. This volume also includes three of Capote's most famous stories: “House of Flowers,” “A Diamond Guitar” and “A Christmas Memory.”
'This Crazy Thing Called Love: The Golden World and Fatal Marriage of Ann and Billy Woodward' by Susan Braudy
One of the stories that brought down Capote focused on Ann Woodward, who married banking heir Billy Woodward. "They had a troubled marriage," Leamer explains. "There were burglars in their area where their mansion was. One evening, she says she thinks it's a burglar coming and she goes out in the hallway and she shoots and kills her husband. Truman had the police files. It's indisputable that it was an accident." Of course, that doesn't make for much of a story so Capote put his own spin on it. Read the true account here, in what Leamer calls "a deeply truthful, well-researched story."
'In Cold Blood' by Truman Capote
While not related to The Swans, we recommend reading this one if you're still curious about Capote. First published serially in The New Yorker in 1965, this is the gripping story of the Clutter family of Holcomb, Kansas, and the two men, Richard Eugene Hickock and Perry Edward Smith, who murdered them on the night of November 15, 1959. It was a smash hit at the time and heralded a totally new kind of journalism. Don't miss it.
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