I enjoy meeting new people and getting to know their stories. You often get some surprises after going beyond the introductions. Everyone of us has a story. Everyone has his or her version of their stories. They may not tell their real stories, they are still stories. We all tell our own version of our stories.
Untold Story by Monica Ali is a fiction premised on the demise of a princess and about Lydia, an English woman who had wanted to escape her past and reinvent a new life in Kensington, Midwest America. The question was : Could Lydia ever run away from her home, her children, her family and her heritage? Some part of the story was told by reading the journal kept by her personal assistant, Lawrence who had been extremely supportive of Lydia and a great admirer of her. Lawrence wrote about Lydia in his diary : “ Press exposure and public scrutiny-I hardly know where to begin. She had lived with it for such a long time, why not carry on indefinitely? Perhaps that question is built on the premise that one eventually becomes immune to these things. I wonder if anyone does. We rather assume it when we see the magazines and newspapers full of personal comments on the starlets of the day. It’s the price of fame, we say to ourselves, and loose change at that.” Lydia reminds me of Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a novel by Truman Capote although the two characters are very different in that Lydia is a royal princess who wanted to live an ordinary life while Holly Golightly escaped her homely life and ended up a socialite in Manhattan. Even though both women are vulnerable and insecure, they are determined to break free from the circumstances they were trapped in and take steps to find their own place in the world.
In Breakfast at Tiffany’s Holly Golightly leaves her husband who is a horse doctor living near Tulip , Texas in search of her dreams. It was 1938, Lulamae Barnes married Doc Golightly and became a stepmother to his children when she was fourteen years old. At the time, her brother Fred and her lost both parents and they were found stealing milk and turkey from Doc Golightly’s farm. Doc took them in. According to Doc she never had to lift her fingers and they all doted on her and they must have spent ‘a hunnerd dollars‘ worth of magazines coming into their house.
Doc Golightly tracks his wife down and he finds her.
After Doc leaves, Holly tells her friends, Joe Bell and the narrator that she does not think about divorcing Doc as her marriage to Doc at age fourteen could not possibly be legal. Holly and the narrator live in the same apartment building and they go to the bar owned by Joe Bell several times a day, not necessarily for a drink but to use the telephone there. Holly calls the narrator, Fred as he reminds her of her long lost brother. ‘Fred’ is a writer.
Here is an excerpt on part of the exchange between the characters when Holly feels that she needs to justify herself for not returning with Doc.
‘…We spent the rest of the night roaming around in a bus station. Right up till the last minute Doc thought I was going to go with him. Even though I kept telling him : But, Doc, I’m not fourteen any more, and I’m not Lulamae. But the terrible part is (and I realized it while we were standing there) I am. I’m still stealing turkey eggs and running through a brier patch. Only now I call it having the mean reds.”
Joe Bell disdainfully settled the fresh martinis in front of us.
” Never love a wild thing, Mr Bell,”Holly advised him. “That was Doc’s mistake. He was always lugging home wild things. A hawk with a hurt wing leg. But you can’t give your heart to a wild thing: strong enough torun into the woods. Or fly into a tree. Then a taller tree. Then the sky. That’s how you’ll end up, Mr. Bell. If you let yourself love a wild thing. You’ll end up looking at the sky.”
” She’s drunk,” Joe Bell informed me.
” Moderately,” Holly confessed.” But Doc knew what I meant. I explained it to him very carefully, and it was something he could understand. We shook hands and held on to each other and he wished me luck.” She glanced at the clock.” He must be in the Blue Mountains by now.”
They are drinking at Bell’s bar.
” What’s she talking about?” Joe Bell asked me.
Holly lifted her martini. ” Let’s wish the Doc luck, too,” she said, touching her glass against mine.
” Good luck: and believe me, dearest Doc —it’s better to look at the sky than live there. Such an empty place;so vague. Just a country where the thunder goes and things disappear.”
–Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote
Breakfast at Tiffany’s is one of my favourite novellas. I also love the film and you can hear Holly aka Lulamae in Audrey Hepburn’s voice. You have to read the book to appreciate Holly’s charm, candour and quirkiness better. She is just restless and whimsical, looking for a place she can call home.To Holly Golightly, nothing bad can ever happen to you at Tiffany’s.
Truman Capote is a brilliant story teller. His prose is beautiful and prolific.
Here is an excerpt in ‘Fred’, the narrator’s voice.
‘ We ate lunch at the cafeteria in the park. Afterwards, avoiding the zoo ( Holly said she couldn’t bear to see anything in a cafe, we giggled, ran, sang along the paths towards the old wooden boathouse, now gone. Leaves floated on the lake, on the shore, a parkman was fanning a bonfire of them, and the smoke, rising like Indian signals, was the only smudge on the quivering air. Aprils have never meant much to me, autumns seem that season of beginning, spring; which is how I felt sitting with Holly on the railings of the boathouse porch. I thought of the future, and spoke of the past. Because Holly wanted to know about my childhood. She talked of her own, too; but it was elusive, nameless, placeless, an impressionistic recital, though the impression received was contrary to what one expected, for she gave an almost volutuous account of swimming and summer, Christmas trees, pretty cousins, and parties; in short, happy in a way that she was not, and never, certainly, the background of a child who had run away.
Or, I asked, wasn’t it true that she’d been out on her own since she was fourteen? She rubbed her nose. ” That’s true. The other isn’t. But really, darling, you made such a tragedy out of your childhood I didn’t feel I should compete.”
–Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote
Breakfast at Tiffany’s is more than a delightful read. I read the novella years ago and it is one of the books that I would like to re-read soon.
Glad to find that Words on Wall by Parveen Kaur recommends the novella unreservedly. Splendid. https://parveenkaurharnam.wordpress.com/2021/07/09/book-review-breakfast-at-tiffanys-by-truman-capote/