I’m a sucker for nonfiction that reads like fiction. You know: Histories that seem too wild to be true; biographies that turn a distant celeb into your imaginary best friend. I’ve also got a soft spot for Audrey Hepburn, and the vanished New York of the Mad Men era.
So this new book, Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman ($11.69 at Amazon), is sort of a slam-dunk for me. It’s the story of how a minor Truman Capote novel became screen classic against all expectations -- and odds.
Here are just some of the fascinating factoids found between its pages:
- Truman Capote, the cranky little man who authored the source novel, thought Holly Golightly could only be played by Marilyn Monroe.
- Director Blake Edwards (who later specialized in naughty comedies, including one where his wife Julie Andrews appeared topless) had no idea how to end the flick, so he filmed two different options before settling on the heartbreaking “Cat! Cat!” sequence.
- Throughout filming, Audrey Hepburn struggled with the guilt of being a working woman and trying to be a good wife and mom.
The book is also filled with photos, maps, and sumptuously designed pages that mimic the film’s titles. Written in a breezy, casual style, it fills you in -- like a gossipy pal curled up next to you on a banquette and ratting on everyone at the party -- on everything from Truman Capote’s early life and how he came to write the original novel, to Audrey’s marriage and desire not to take this particular job, to Hollywood censors and their worry that the four-letter words and immoral situations in the book would lead teens to go on shoplifting rampages and worse.
Through it all, you begin to see how this was part of the beginning of the end of the repressed ‘50s and paved the way for the more freewheeling ‘60s. Seriously!
For a pop-culture junkie like me, with a closet full of little black pencil dresses and more than one tiara, it’s heaven.
Do you have a girl-crush on Audrey Hepburn? Love Breakfast at Tiffany’s despite that weird little Mickey Rooney bit? Think you’ll read this?
Image via HarperCollins.com