The Swans of Fifth Avenue: A Novel

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The author of The Aviator’s Wife returns with a triumphant new novel about New York’s “Swans” of the 1950s—and the scandalous, headline-making, and enthralling friendship between literary legend Truman Capote and peerless socialite Babe Paley.

People’s Book of the Week • USA Today’s #1 “New and Noteworthy” Book • Entertainment Weekly’s Must List • LibraryReads Top Ten Pick

Of all the glamorous stars of New York high society, none blazes brighter than Babe Paley. Her flawless face regularly graces the pages of Vogue, and she is celebrated and adored for her ineffable style and exquisite taste, especially among her friends—the alluring socialite Swans Slim Keith, C. Z. Guest, Gloria Guinness, and Pamela Churchill. By all appearances, Babe has it all: money, beauty, glamour, jewels, influential friends, a prestigious husband, and gorgeous homes. But beneath this elegantly composed exterior dwells a passionate woman—a woman desperately longing for true love and connection.

Enter Truman Capote. This diminutive golden-haired genius with a larger-than-life personality explodes onto the scene, setting Babe and her circle of Swans aflutter. Through Babe, Truman gains an unlikely entrée into the enviable lives of Manhattan’s elite, along with unparalleled access to the scandal and gossip of Babe’s powerful circle. Sure of the loyalty of the man she calls “True Heart,” Babe never imagines the destruction Truman will leave in his wake. But once a storyteller, always a storyteller—even when the stories aren’t his to tell.

Truman’s fame is at its peak when such notable celebrities as Frank and Mia Sinatra, Lauren Bacall, and Rose Kennedy converge on his glittering Black and White Ball. But all too soon, he’ll ignite a literary scandal whose repercussions echo through the years. The Swans of Fifth Avenue will seduce and startle readers as it opens the door onto one of America’s most sumptuous eras.

Praise for The Swans of Fifth Avenue

“Exceptional storytelling . . . teeming with scandal, gossip and excitement.”—Harper’s Bazaar

“This moving fictionalization brings the whole cast of characters back to vivid life. Gossipy and fun, it’s also a nuanced look at the beauty and cruelty of a rarefied, bygone world.”People

“The era and the sordid details come back to life in this jewel of a novel.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“A catty, juicy read that’s like a three-martini lunch.”USA Today

“[Captures] the mesmerizing sparkle and scandal of New York high society in the 1950s.”Chicago Tribune

“Tantalizing . . . Readers will fall into a world of glitz, glamour and the exciting life of the rich and famous. The details and conversations are so rich, you may forget you're reading a novel.”—Associated Press

“Highly entertaining.”The Washington Post

“Take Gossip Girl and move it to the 50s.”theSkimm

“The strange and fascinating relationship between Capote and his ‘swans’ is wonderfully reimagined in this engrossing novel”—Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants

“Your next must-read book-club selection.”—Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet


From the Hardcover edition.
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About the author

Melanie Benjamin is the New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator’s Wife, The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb, and Alice I Have Been. Benjamin lives in Chicago, where she is at work on her next historical novel.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Reviews

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73 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
Delacorte Press
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Published on
Jan 26, 2016
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Pages
368
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ISBN
9780345539755
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Contemporary Women
Fiction / Historical
Fiction / Literary
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Melanie Benjamin
In the spirit of Loving Frank and The Paris Wife, acclaimed novelist Melanie Benjamin pulls back the curtain on the marriage of one of America’s most extraordinary couples: Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
 
“The history [is] exhilarating. . . . The Aviator’s Wife soars.”—USA Today
 
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

When Anne Morrow, a shy college senior with hidden literary aspirations, travels to Mexico City to spend Christmas with her family, she meets Colonel Charles Lindbergh, fresh off his celebrated 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic. Enthralled by Charles’s assurance and fame, Anne is certain the aviator has scarcely noticed her. But she is wrong. Charles sees in Anne a kindred spirit, a fellow adventurer, and her world will be changed forever. The two marry in a headline-making wedding. In the years that follow, Anne becomes the first licensed female glider pilot in the United States. But despite this and other major achievements, she is viewed merely as the aviator’s wife. The fairy-tale life she once longed for will bring heartbreak and hardships, ultimately pushing her to reconcile her need for love and her desire for independence, and to embrace, at last, life’s infinite possibilities for change and happiness.
 
Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.

Praise for The Aviator’s Wife
 
“Remarkable . . . The Aviator’s Wife succeeds [in] putting the reader inside Anne Lindbergh’s life with her famous husband.”—The Denver Post

“Anne Morrow Lindbergh narrates the story of the Lindberghs’ troubled marriage in all its triumph and tragedy.”—USA Today
 
“[This novel] will fascinate history buffs and surprise those who know of her only as ‘the aviator’s wife.’ ”—People
 
“It’s hard to quit reading this intimate historical fiction.”—The Dallas Morning News
 
“Fictional biography at its finest.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Utterly unforgettable.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“An intimate examination of the life and emotional mettle of Anne Morrow.”—The Washington Post

“A story of both triumph and pain that will take your breath away.”—Kate Alcott, author of The Dressmaker
Melanie Benjamin
BONUS: This edition contains an Alice I Have Been discussion guide and an excerpt from Melanie Benjamin's The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb.

Few works of literature are as universally beloved as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Now, in this spellbinding historical novel, we meet the young girl whose bright spirit sent her on an unforgettable trip down the rabbit hole–and the grown woman whose story is no less enthralling.


But oh my dear, I am tired of being Alice in Wonderland. Does it sound ungrateful?

Alice Liddell Hargreaves’s life has been a richly woven tapestry: As a young woman, wife, mother, and widow, she’s experienced intense passion, great privilege, and greater tragedy. But as she nears her eighty-first birthday, she knows that, to the world around her, she is and will always be only “Alice.” Her life was permanently dog-eared at one fateful moment in her tenth year–the golden summer day she urged a grown-up friend to write down one of his fanciful stories.

That story, a wild tale of rabbits, queens, and a precocious young child, becomes a sensation the world over. Its author, a shy, stuttering Oxford professor, does more than immortalize Alice–he changes her life forever. But even he cannot stop time, as much as he might like to. And as Alice’s childhood slips away, a peacetime of glittering balls and royal romances gives way to the urgent tide of war. 

For Alice, the stakes could not be higher, for she is the mother of three grown sons, soldiers all. Yet even as she stands to lose everything she treasures, one part of her will always be the determined, undaunted Alice of the story, who discovered that life beyond the rabbit hole was an astonishing journey.

A love story and a literary mystery, Alice I Have Been brilliantly blends fact and fiction to capture the passionate spirit of a woman who was truly worthy of her fictional alter ego, in a world as captivating as the Wonderland only she could inspire.
Melanie Benjamin
Melanie Benjamin introduces readers to the lavish, heady world of her novel The Swans of Fifth Avenue with this exclusive ebook short story! In this enchanting prequel, New York society and Hollywood royalty collide during the doomed and decadent life of Ernest Hemingway.
 
Spain, 1959. Slim Hawks Hayward likes to think she doesn’t get jealous. But when her dear friend Lauren “Betty” Bacall learns that Papa Hemingway has come to watch the bullfights and insists that Slim make introductions, she can’t help feeling protective. Slim has known Papa for years. He always makes her feel like the most beautiful woman in the room—even when his wife is standing right beside him. Truth be told, Slim could have learned to love him all those years ago, in the streets of Havana or the mountains of the American West. Now, Slim is sure that Papa will fall for Betty. What she doesn’t anticipate is the feeling that Papa himself has changed—and their relationship will never be the same.
 
Features a captivating preview of Melanie Benjamin’s highly anticipated novel The Swans of Fifth Avenue!
 
Advance praise for Melanie Benjamin’s The Swans of Fifth Avenue
 
“The strange and fascinating relationship between Truman Capote and his ‘swans’ is wonderfully reimagined in this engrossing novel. It’s a credit to Benjamin that we end up caring so much for these women of power, grace, and beauty—and for Capote, too.”—Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants
 
“A delicious tale . . . Melanie Benjamin has turned Truman Capote’s greatest scandal into your next must-read book-club selection.”—Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
 
“Reading The Swans of Fifth Avenue is like being ushered into a party where you’re offered champagne and fed the sumptuous secrets of New York’s elite—without having to pay the price afterward. The swans are outmatched only by the elegance of Melanie Benjamin’s prose—captivatingly earnest and sophisticated.”—Vanessa Diffenbaugh, New York Times bestselling author of The Language of Flowers
 
“Benjamin convincingly portrays a large cast of colorful historical figures while crafting a compelling, gossipy narrative with rich emotional depth.”—Library Journal
Melanie Benjamin
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue and The Aviator’s Wife, a fascinating novel of the friendship and creative partnership between two of Hollywood’s earliest female legends—screenwriter Frances Marion and superstar Mary Pickford

It is 1914, and twenty-five-year-old Frances Marion has left her (second) husband and her Northern California home for the lure of Los Angeles, where she is determined to live independently as an artist. But the word on everyone’s lips these days is “flickers”—the silent moving pictures enthralling theatergoers. Turn any corner in this burgeoning town and you’ll find made-up actors running around, as a movie camera captures it all.

In this fledgling industry, Frances finds her true calling: writing stories for this wondrous new medium. She also makes the acquaintance of actress Mary Pickford, whose signature golden curls and lively spirit have earned her the title “America’s Sweetheart.” The two ambitious young women hit it off instantly, their kinship fomented by their mutual fever to create, to move audiences to a frenzy, to start a revolution.

But their ambitions are challenged by both the men around them and the limitations imposed on their gender—and their astronomical success could come at a price. As Mary, the world’s highest paid and most beloved actress, struggles to live her life under the spotlight, she also wonders if it is possible to find love, even with the dashing actor Douglas Fairbanks. Frances, too, longs to share her life with someone. As in any good Hollywood story, dramas will play out, personalities will clash, and even the deepest friendships might be shattered.

With cameos from such notables as Charlie Chaplin, Louis B. Mayer, Rudolph Valentino, and Lillian Gish, The Girls in the Picture is, at its heart, a story of friendship and forgiveness. Melanie Benjamin perfectly captures the dawn of a glittering new era—its myths and icons, its possibilities and potential, and its seduction and heartbreak.

Advance praise for The Girls in the Picture

“[Melanie] Benjamin fully captures the giddy excitement of the blossoming movie business in the 1910s and 1920s and has chosen intriguingly flawed protagonists with compelling life stories that aren’t widely known today. This engrossing and rewarding read provides the same mixture of well-researched plot and fascinating characters [that has] made Benjamin’s previous novels so outstanding.”—Library Journal (starred review)
Melanie Benjamin
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue and The Aviator’s Wife, a fascinating novel of the friendship and creative partnership between two of Hollywood’s earliest female legends—screenwriter Frances Marion and superstar Mary Pickford

It is 1914, and twenty-five-year-old Frances Marion has left her (second) husband and her Northern California home for the lure of Los Angeles, where she is determined to live independently as an artist. But the word on everyone’s lips these days is “flickers”—the silent moving pictures enthralling theatergoers. Turn any corner in this burgeoning town and you’ll find made-up actors running around, as a movie camera captures it all.

In this fledgling industry, Frances finds her true calling: writing stories for this wondrous new medium. She also makes the acquaintance of actress Mary Pickford, whose signature golden curls and lively spirit have earned her the title “America’s Sweetheart.” The two ambitious young women hit it off instantly, their kinship fomented by their mutual fever to create, to move audiences to a frenzy, to start a revolution.

But their ambitions are challenged by both the men around them and the limitations imposed on their gender—and their astronomical success could come at a price. As Mary, the world’s highest paid and most beloved actress, struggles to live her life under the spotlight, she also wonders if it is possible to find love, even with the dashing actor Douglas Fairbanks. Frances, too, longs to share her life with someone. As in any good Hollywood story, dramas will play out, personalities will clash, and even the deepest friendships might be shattered.

With cameos from such notables as Charlie Chaplin, Louis B. Mayer, Rudolph Valentino, and Lillian Gish, The Girls in the Picture is, at its heart, a story of friendship and forgiveness. Melanie Benjamin perfectly captures the dawn of a glittering new era—its myths and icons, its possibilities and potential, and its seduction and heartbreak.

Advance praise for The Girls in the Picture

“[Melanie] Benjamin fully captures the giddy excitement of the blossoming movie business in the 1910s and 1920s and has chosen intriguingly flawed protagonists with compelling life stories that aren’t widely known today. This engrossing and rewarding read provides the same mixture of well-researched plot and fascinating characters [that has] made Benjamin’s previous novels so outstanding.”—Library Journal (starred review)
Melanie Benjamin
In the spirit of Loving Frank and The Paris Wife, acclaimed novelist Melanie Benjamin pulls back the curtain on the marriage of one of America’s most extraordinary couples: Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
 
“The history [is] exhilarating. . . . The Aviator’s Wife soars.”—USA Today
 
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

When Anne Morrow, a shy college senior with hidden literary aspirations, travels to Mexico City to spend Christmas with her family, she meets Colonel Charles Lindbergh, fresh off his celebrated 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic. Enthralled by Charles’s assurance and fame, Anne is certain the aviator has scarcely noticed her. But she is wrong. Charles sees in Anne a kindred spirit, a fellow adventurer, and her world will be changed forever. The two marry in a headline-making wedding. In the years that follow, Anne becomes the first licensed female glider pilot in the United States. But despite this and other major achievements, she is viewed merely as the aviator’s wife. The fairy-tale life she once longed for will bring heartbreak and hardships, ultimately pushing her to reconcile her need for love and her desire for independence, and to embrace, at last, life’s infinite possibilities for change and happiness.
 
Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.

Praise for The Aviator’s Wife
 
“Remarkable . . . The Aviator’s Wife succeeds [in] putting the reader inside Anne Lindbergh’s life with her famous husband.”—The Denver Post

“Anne Morrow Lindbergh narrates the story of the Lindberghs’ troubled marriage in all its triumph and tragedy.”—USA Today
 
“[This novel] will fascinate history buffs and surprise those who know of her only as ‘the aviator’s wife.’ ”—People
 
“It’s hard to quit reading this intimate historical fiction.”—The Dallas Morning News
 
“Fictional biography at its finest.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Utterly unforgettable.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“An intimate examination of the life and emotional mettle of Anne Morrow.”—The Washington Post

“A story of both triumph and pain that will take your breath away.”—Kate Alcott, author of The Dressmaker
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