Literary Fiction

Swan Song – Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott

10 October 2018
Swan Song Book Cover Swan Song
Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott
June 7, 2018

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


“Oh Truheart. You little motherfucker. What have you done?! That’s before she reads the worst of it … When she gets to the bloodstained sheets, she fumbles for the phone. Babe answers on the first ring. ‘Well?’ ‘I feel like I just got punched in the gut.’ ‘Yes, but what did you think …?’ ‘Pure garbage. Bitchy, catty trash,’ Slim says unequivocally. She tries to sound dismissive, but they know that it is bigger than that. It’s a declaration of war.”

Truman Capote after 20 years of infusing himself into the fabric of the rich, powerful and famous families, exposes their devastating inner secrets. In 2 issues of Esquire magazine’s serialisation of his new book ‘Answered Prayers’, he drops the biggest social bomb on his and their lives. As the author of classics such as ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ and ‘In Cold Blood’ he was a literary genius, eccentric, yet fashionably popular during the 1960s. Even though his literary career was fading he still managed a lifestyle that his childhood could never have imagined.

Truman considered himself to have had an unloved and harsh childhood which he used as a trade to entice others into revealing their hidden secrets. Mixed with his engaging and alluring language he bewitched many people, particularly the wives, whom he called his Swans, into believing he was their confidante. With wine and words, he seduced them into divulging all.

While the subject matter of Swan Song is very intriguing and captivating, Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott delivers a tremendous story depicting the background of a literary icon and an account of his thinking around the sensation that was to cost him so much. Having watched a few post-event chatshow videos of Truman, he does seem quite disturbed and irrational, and claims they were always aware of the potential to appear in his books. While fictitious names are used in Capote’s book, the readers were left in no doubt who the real characters were. For some, it resulted in suicide, for which he would never be forgiven.

I didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did, but the fact that it is based on real events made it all the more fascinating. I was entertained the whole way through and mesmerised by the lifestyle, the secrets and gobsmacked by the professional and social suicide committed by Truman Capote. What really drove him to do it?

“He seduced us [them] all with his words – and Truman knows full well the power of words. They’re both armour and weapon, the one thing he’s sure of. They alone have never failed him, their lyricism hinting at the beauty trapped within his stunted body, not to mention his conflicted soul.”

Many thanks to Random House UK, Cornerstone Publishing and NetGalley, for an ARC version of the book in return for an honest review.

Peter Donnelly

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley

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