This was a selection for the May nonfiction book club, and it lost. I’m so disappointed, you guys. But, I will persevere.
Wasson recounts the history behind both Truman Capote’s 1958 novel, and the 1961 film directed by Blake Edwards and starring the inimitable and unconquerable Audrey Hepburn.
Overall, this is a pretty good snapshot of Truman Capote, Audrey Hepburn, the film industry of the late 50s and early 60s, and the shifting beauty standards of the era. All of which amounts to a pretty interesting read that nevertheless feels a little in the thin side.
Wasson does a nice job tying all the threads together, but this story is a brief interlude in the lives of its characters.
The highlight, for me, was the discussion of how feminine beauty and sexuality changed because of this movie and Audrey Hepburn, and the notion that the now ubiquitous little black dress was a daring invention because the only women who typically wore black were widows. Black signified sexual experience, and availability. So it’s adoption was an opening of sexual mores.
Gone were the days of Doris Day’s absolute disinterest in sex and adherence to chaste, colorful clothing.
This is the 1960s, and unmarried women could have sex and without apologizing.
The thing that kept getting me, though, was that Wasson repeatedly describes Audrey Hepburn like she was some vaguely attractive woman barely worth noticing.
And, I know what you’re wondering. Does this book address the unbelievably racist Mr. Yunioshi? Yes. Blake Edwards refused to cut the scenes, David Axelrod didn’t write him that way, Mickey Rooney had no idea people were offended, Truman Capote didn’t like him, and Akira Kurosawa was so angry he could barely speak.
I haven’t read the actual selection for the book club yet (not a huge fan of 80s movies), but I found this to be both engaging and informative.