“Writers write. And one can’t be surprised if they write what they know.”

So says one of the coterie of beautiful, wealthy, fragile women that literary darling Truman Capote called his ‘swans’.

Swan Song (Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott, Cornerstone, 2018) is a wonderfully evocative novel, spanning more than 20 vodka-soaked, jet-setting years. It explores the intimate relationships that Capote unforgivably betrayed when his short story, ‘La Côte Basque, 1965’, was published in Esquire magazine in 1975.

An excerpt from Answered Prayers, the novel the author believed would be even greater than his previous masterpiece, In Cold Blood, the story pillaged the private lives of the women who’d confided in him for decades, exposing them to humiliation and ridicule.

Unprepared for the inevitable aftermath of his decision to publish, Capote cuts a pitiful figure in his later years, as he lurches from one self-destructive episode to another, desperate to redeem himself.

Artfully imagining the events around the real-life scandal, this is an immensely readable book where the hero is the least enjoyable part about it.

By Ylla Watkins

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