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Swan Song

Narrated by: Debora Weston
Length: 17 hrs and 51 mins
Categories: Fiction, Literary
4.5 out of 5 stars (174 ratings)

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Summary

Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2019

They told him everything.

He told everyone else.

Over countless martini-soaked Manhattan lunches, they shared their deepest secrets and greatest fears. On exclusive yachts sailing the Mediterranean, on private jets streaming towards Jamaica, on Yucatán beaches in secluded bays, they gossiped about sex, power, money, love and fame. They never imagined he would betray them so absolutely.

In the autumn of 1975, after two decades of intimate friendships, Truman Capote detonated a literary grenade, forever rupturing the elite circle he’d worked so hard to infiltrate. Why did he do it, knowing what he stood to lose? Was it to punish them? To make them pay for their manners, money and celebrated names? Or did he simply refuse to believe that they could ever stop loving him? Whatever the motive, one thing remains indisputable: nine years after achieving wild success with In Cold Blood, Capote committed an act of professional and social suicide with his most lethal of weapons...words.

A dazzling debut about the line between gossip and slander, self-creation and self-preservation, Swan Song is the tragic story of the literary icon of his age and the beautiful, wealthy, vulnerable women he called his Swans. 

‘Writers write. And one can’t be surprised if they write what they know.’

©2018 Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott (P)2018 Penguin Random House UK

Critic reviews

"A completely fascinating novel and a marvellously skillful re-imagining of real people, times and places. Outstanding." (William Boyd)

"Scandalous, frenetic, amusing and tragic." (Daily Mail

"Our generation’s The Secret History." (Pendora)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A tour de force

What a simply wonderful book. Totally engrossing. Deborah Weston is to be congratulated for bringing to life all the fascinating characters to be found in the pages, especially Truman Capote himself. Kellogg Greenberg-Jephcott has written a masterpiece.

20 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Fabulous. Truman Capote and his High Society Swans

An almost, for me, perfect novel. Complex characters, beautiful writing, sensitive narration and a well-executed plot which twists and turns through different decades, different countries and different levels of society.
Based on a true story the novel uncovers the brilliance, foibles, malice, addictions and insecurities of Truman Capote who breaks his way into American high society only to wreck his own version of paradise and the reputations of several prominent, rich women- his swans.

First class.

17 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Exceptionally Good Biography

I only chose this biography because I read and liked a review in a woman's magazine, but I am so glad I did. Truman Capote was an intriguing human being, loved and loathed in equal measure, this book follows his rise to the top, mingling with America's high society gals, with whom he is very popular, to his downfall after revealing many of their secrets.
The kind of biography one could easily listen to again and again. What a fascinating life.

11 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Money and success don't make you happy!

I chose to read this book because for a couple of reasons - Truman Capote's 'In Cold Blood' is one of my top 10 favourite books and I wanted to know a little more about him from another admirer of his work who had done her research, and I wanted to know a little more about the jet set society of the time that he mixed with - something I knew very little about.

Thoroughly enjoyed how the author seemed to really inhabit Capote's voice and wasn't afraid to show him in a less positive light when the 'story' called for it. The lives of the socialites, their families and Capote himself is a million miles from my personal experience (thankfully!) and I enjoyed learning about them and having my personal prejudices confirmed that money and 'success' don't make you any different or happier than anyone else!

If you have any interest in Capote or generally in the period in question, I'd highly recommend. If you're looking for any kind of literary review or commentary, that's not what this is.

3 people found this helpful

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Astonishing. Totally gripped

This is a remarkable and incredibly detailed account of the rise and fall of Capote. The narrative moves back and forth over the years and in many ways is a series of vignettes. The structure is unconventional but it works well if you go with flow.

Capote was a gifted and unique individual. In addition to his prodigious talent as a writer, he was a socialite who mixed with politicians, film producers, actors princes and anyone who was someone. He cultivated a small clique and each confided their secrets over many years. And then he betrayed their friendship and in an act of pure spite, went public.

I absolutely loved this book. Narration throughout is superb and if I could give it 10 stars, I would.

3 people found this helpful

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I loved it

I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish. extremely well written and delivered, the narrator really brought the book to life for me. a highly reccomended purchase.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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A good entertaining biography

I very much enjoyed this account of someone whose life I didn't know well BUT the last few chapters are redundant and tedious as they are imagined thoughts of Capote as he is dying. Still read it but when it gets to the well weird post death part - don't bother.

2 people found this helpful

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swan song

beautifully written and full of history and tales and those characters. Just gorgeous this book

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Fascinating, but long

A beautifully written insight into that world and the narrator is fabulous. It just felt very very long.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Extraordinary accomplishment

Superbly written and beautifully narrated. The author has crafted this so lovingly it really is a work of art. I knew very little about Truman Capote and the people who influenced him and vice versa.
It’s hard to criticise such an accomplishment . . . so I’m not going to. This is so cleverly written, with so much depth and loving detail. Read it.

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  • Antonio Arch
  • 16-07-19

Oh, Darling...

Every year or so I find myself discovering a book that is so good that if I discovered it on Audible I have to rush out to buy it in hard copy or vice versa, and I end up owning both the audiobook and hard copy. As I wrote in my Goodreads review, I’m pretty confident that I doubt very much if there will be a book that comes along to knock this one off its pedestal. I’m pretty confident that 2019 will be historically known as “the year of Swan Song”.
Truman Capote has always held a certain fascination for me and I wasn’t sure that I would appreciate a dramatization that filled in parts of his life that weren’t known. This book is so good that I suddenly find myself scrambling to remember what I remember as fact from reading biographical material because Swan Song is so believable, credible and possible. I can just hear him talking to limousine drivers and neighbours just the way that he does in this novel.
The narrator is nothing short of gifted! She perfectly switches from telling the story, the collective voice of the lamentation of Swans, the individual and Truman himself. Her portrayal of Truman is eerily perfect. This is one of those books that makes the perfect audiobook thanks to Deborah Weston’s dramatic background. Reading the hard copy I thought that it would make a great film adaption. Now that I have heard it told, I can certainly say it was made for audio!