Capote's Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era

Capote's Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era

by Laurence Leamer (Author)

New York Times bestselling author Laurence Leamer reveals the complex web of relationships and scandalous true stories behind Truman Capote's never-published final novel, Answered Prayers--the dark secrets, tragic glamour, and Capote's ultimate betrayal of the group of female friends he called his "swans."

“There are certain women,” Truman Capote wrote, “who, though perhaps not born rich, are born to be rich.” Barbara “Babe” Paley, Gloria Guinness, Marella Agnelli, Slim Hayward, Pamela Churchill, C. Z. Guest, Lee Radziwill (Jackie Kennedy’s sister)—they were the toast of midcentury New York, each beautiful and distinguished in her own way. Capote befriended them, received their deepest confidences, and ingratiated himself into their lives. Then, in one fell swoop, he betrayed them in the most surprising and startling way possible.

Bestselling biographer Laurence Leamer delves into the years following the acclaimed publication of Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1958 and In Cold Blood in 1966, when Capote struggled with a crippling case of writer’s block. While en­joying all the fruits of his success, he was struck with an idea for what he was sure would be his most celebrated novel…one based on the re­markable, racy lives of his very, very rich friends.

For years, Capote attempted to write An­swered Prayers, what he believed would have been his magnum opus. But when he eventually published a few chapters in Esquire, the thinly fictionalized lives (and scandals) of his closest fe­male confidantes were laid bare for all to see, and he was banished from their high-society world forever. Laurence Leamer re-creates the lives of these fascinating swans, their friendships with Capote and one another, and the doomed quest to write what could have been one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century.

In the captivating pages of "Capote's Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era," Laurence Leamer weaves a rich tapestry of Truman Capote's life, focusing on the influential women who surrounded and shaped him.

At the heart of the narrative is the enigmatic and complex figure of Truman Capote, a literary genius known for his iconic works like "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "In Cold Blood." Leamer delves into Capote's relationships with a colorful cast of female companions, exploring how they influenced his creative output, personal struggles, and ultimately, his tragic demise.

From his early years in New York City, Capote cultivated a circle of brilliant and glamorous women, including socialites, writers, and actresses. Among them were Babe Paley, the epitome of high society, and Slim Keith, the elegant and free-spirited model. These women provided Capote with inspiration, companionship, and a sense of belonging in a world that often misunderstood him.

However, as Capote's fame soared, so did the demands on his time and energy. The pressure to maintain his extravagant lifestyle and deliver literary masterpieces took a toll on his mental and physical health. Leamer deftly captures Capote's descent into a world of alcohol and drug abuse, as well as his struggles with depression and self-doubt.

Through meticulous research and interviews with those who knew Capote intimately, Leamer brings to life the vibrant world of New York City's cultural elite in the mid-20th century. He paints a vivid picture of the parties, the gossip, and the artistic ferment that defined an era. But beyond the glitz and glamour, he also reveals the hidden pain and turmoil that plagued Capote and those around him.

"Capote's Women" is not just a biography of a literary icon; it is an exploration of the human condition, the nature of fame, and the enduring power of friendship and betrayal. Leamer's compassionate and unflinching portrayal of Capote and his circle offers a poignant reminder of the fragility of life and the complexities of the human spirit.


368 pages