I love the film adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany’s; it’s not just Audrey Hepburn’s style oozing out all over the place but it also has armfuls of charm. I have been told multiple times that the book is so different, which is probably why I put off reading it so long. Faced with choosing this month’s classic, the song by Deep Blue Something came on the radio and made my decision for me. It helps that it’s a novella (and most editions also include three short stories as well).
Really, the film has so much dialogue lifted from the book I have no idea what all those people have been talking about. OK Holly Golightly is blonde and it’s not a romance, even if all the men around her fall a little bit in love. She’s no meaner on the page than on screen (and let’s face it, most people ignore her meanness in the film). Poor Mr Yunioshi however had an appalling adpatation (on the subject this is an interesting opinion piece from an Asian-American), really he’s just the photographer upstairs at the start of the book.
If you aren’t familiar with the story, Holly is a café society girl who doesn’t work but lives off dinners and favours from rich men. The unkind among us might call her a prostitute but it’s made clear at some point that in most cases there is no sex involved. She tries very hard to appear not to care but there are glimpses of the fragile young woman underneath when her façade slips, especially in regards to her brother Fred.
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.
The narrator is a writer who lives in the same brownstone who slowly becomes friends with her, amused by the comings and goings at her door. She mixes with playboys, Hollywood agents, foreign dignitaries, gangsters… and has a half blind cat with no name, not that she owns him of course. The cat’s quite symbolic, Holly is as much a stray as he is, neither of them belonging to anyone.
It’s bizarre that it’s introduced as wartime and this really highlights the difference between Britain and America at the time. There’s a small reference to not being able to bake as normal due to rations, but Holly’s life is untouched by the events in Europe.
The ending may differ a little from the film, but there’s still an emotional scene involving the cat and the very last page made me smile.
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