NO SPOILERS – Only three impressions and two caveats.
First impression. When I began reading I said: “this is why Audrey Hepburn got famous, by interpreting this innocent playgirl-escort-geisha: Holly Golightly”.
Holly is a beautiful girl that knows how to squeeze men to get jewelry, dresses, the rent, and of course cash. A whore would say my grandma. Holly is the kind of girl ignorant of anything not useful for having fun or money, e.g.: she doesn’t give her cat a name because that’s too much commitment. We learned she was married at 14 and left the hillibilly’s home with no notice, thinks of Mexico as a great place to raise horses, and shares business cards with the name of a girlfriend.
I stared at the famous poster of Hepburn with pearls around her neck and in a black dress seated in front a white cup of coffee and her hair tied back. She looks exactly as Capote painted Holly in the novel and I also understood why Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe to be in this role.
Second impression. After the first pages the reader knows she’s facing an unreliable narrator telling an unreliable story. The narrator is an incipient fiction writer called Fred by Holly because of her brother, but we never know his name as he never introduces himself. This is crucial considering the story is told only from his point of view. Narrator “Fred” never says he’s in love with Holly, considers her a friend, admires her, maybe envies her, and eagerly helps her. Considering the novella is set up in the 1940s and written in the 1950s, it subtlety seems to me that “Fred” never falls in love with Holly because he’s a homosexual man. Of course, he’s never identified as a gay straightforward, but the popular perception that narrator Fred falls in love with Holly is also never expressed explicitly in the novella.
Third impression. No twists, no dramatic turnouts. The novella is not what I expected. Yes, maybe because everybody praises it, maybe because of Hepburn’s iconic poster, maybe because of Capote’s previous stories about real murder cases, or maybe because there can’t be a breakfast at Tiffany’s (it’s the New York City jewelry, of course). The thing is that I was expecting something bolder from the story and it didn’t come.
First caveat. Its literary value is not in the iconic character of Holly Golightly; it is on the unreliability of the characters, the narrator, the main character (Holly, indeed), and of every other else that appears, even those characters who even don’t dare to speak. The very beginning of the story is untrustworthy: Bar owner Joe Bell calls “Fred” to show him a set of pictures from Africa from an old friend. On one of those pictures there’s a wooden statue with the face of Holly. The narrator doesn’t believe she’s been in Africa and that’s the reason he starts telling us how he met her. They met when he rented his first apartment at the brownstone…
Second caveat. Do yourself a favor read the novella and don’t watch the film. But if you still want to watch the movie just see the beginning to get a grasp of Holly and don’t bother on paying attention on the male character, he’s nothing to do with the narrator of the book. After 20 minutes the movie is a Hollywood commercial interpretation of a decent novella by the great Capote.