I’d heard paeans about Breakfast at Tiffany’s but had never seen the movie nor read the book. I’m kind of glad I didn’t read it until now when I’m much more capable and inclined to understand and accept Holly Golightly and her unconventional life choices! Even as I read, I kept visualizing Audrey Hepburn in her LBD and pearls from the movie poster, while imagining Marilyn Monroe in my head! I wasn’t in the least surprised when I read that Capote was desperate to have her play Holly in the movie! To me Holly and Marilyn seemed interchangeable on paper and in life! I watched My Week with Marilyn right after I finished, and the movie just strengthened those feelings!
But I digress…Holly Golightly actually kind of reminds me of Jay Gatsby – misfits both, unforgettable and ionic. In fact for most of the book I was wondering what kind of story would result from their meeting! But I digress again 😉 This is one of the best character sketches I’ve come across in literature! Capote has managed to make Holly poignant, bruised, vulnerable and just intensely human. Her background purposely (at least that’s how it felt me), left ambiguous in details but with hardship and tragedy definitely implied, so that when Doc Golightly appeared, I was suitably shocked as I’m sure Capote intended! Her hectic haphazard lifestyle, her indulgent nature with men, her intelligence carefully kept under wraps, her compassion, her devotion to her brother, her charming honesty combined with a vicious streak, and her seeming disdain for society, make her a tantalising character. She has an almost breathless quality to her, like she’s in a hurry to get somewhere that’s just out of reach! Reminds me again so much of Marilyn Monroe! Vulnerable, lost and yet steely in an intangible, unreal sort of way!
And so although in real life I might want to steer clear of a Holly Golightly, I would inevitably be drawn to her, like moth to flame, only to be burnt by her brightness! But I would never forget her and I would never regret loving her, coz of course I would – love her I mean! How could I not?! She has definite ‘charisma’! Oodles and oodles of it! I love how Capote keeps the writing simple befitting her complex persona. I love why she loves Tiffany and I get why ‘Cat’ is just ‘Cat’ and I feel her inner loneliness, her desperate quest for love and her gritty determination in that pursuit. And so although my rational self recognises that she’s on an inevitable path to self-destruction, my romantic’s soul is rooting for her against all odds!!
She symbolises the yearning we all carry within us and the fragile hope that someday, somehow, we will find our own Tiffany – and feel free to ‘buy that furniture and name the cat’. Now for the movie and the utterly, completely delectable Ms. Hepburn 🙂
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book…
“I knew damn well I’d never be a movie star. It’s too hard; and if you’re intelligent, it’s too embarrassing. My complexes aren’t inferior enough…”
“I don’t want to own anything until I know I’ve found the place where me and things belong together.”
“I want to still be me when I wake up one fine morning and have breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
And my favorite, where Ms. Golightly explains her strategy for tackling the ‘Mean Reds’!
“What I’ve found does the most good is just to get into a taxi and go to Tiffany’s. It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there, not with those kind men in their nice suits, and that lovely smell of silver and alligator wallets. If I could find a real-life place that made me feel like Tiffany’s, then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name.”