I can't believe it's taken me so long to get around to reading this novella. I honestly do always try to read books before watching their movie adaptations but somehow this one slipped through the net. When a film is so iconic it is difficult to avoid - who could resist Audrey Hepburn's portrayal of Holly Golightly, the very definition of chic? But I have finally finished Truman Capote's original story and was interested to find it's quite a different beast to the film, although still every inch a classic.
Holly Golightly is essentially a high-class prostitute, wily and manipulative, acting without concern for the feelings of her friends or the men who fall in love with her. And indeed, acting without concern for the law. Yet she manages to remain somewhat endearing and I can see how some readers fall in love with her, too (I didn't). I suppose part of her charm is that she's so enigmatic and there is always a sense that there's an emotionally scarred little girl bubbling away underneath the hard face and lipstick. She borders on manic in nature, throwing her cat out of the window of a moving car one second, then feeling almost immediately regretful the next, exhibiting an unusual display of tenderness as she desperately searches for him.
It's interesting to look at the way the covers of this book have changed over the years. It was first published as a feature in Esquire magazine, considered to be borderline obscene and very controversial. This is echoed in the early covers - "The wickedly funny experiences of a delightfully uninhibited playgirl" along with that image of Holly casually letting her strap slip off a bare shoulder, bottle of liquor at her side. Contrast this with the later movie tie-in covers showing the immaculately-coiffed Hepburn. And then the modern image on the front of my edition has a girlie, almost chick-lit feel to it that doesn't at all reflect the melancholy tale between the covers.
I don't read many short stories or novellas, generally preferring something a bit lengthier to sink my teeth into, but occasionally a book like this one goes to show that 100 pages can be just enough when the writing is top notch.