Never has such terrific gossip been so well-packaged as in Laurence Leamer's beautifully written and superbly researched Capote's Women. Truman Capote cultivated friendships with a coterie of jet-setting, dynamic women, usually married to some of the richest and most powerful men in the world. He called them his "swans," and these friendships lasted decades. "Truman sailed on their yachts, flew on their planes, stayed at their estates, supped at their tables, and heard their most intimate tales," writes Leamer. Capote gathered tales of affairs, abortions, eating disorders, neglected children and marital woes. But when he published a thinly veiled chapter from his novel-in-progress Answered Prayers that exposed many of those secrets, he was exiled from his life of privilege among the rich and famous. His final decade was filled with mental breakdowns, visits to drug and alcohol rehab clinics and ill health.
Leamer (The Price of Justice) bests Capote by telling the full juicy stories of these swans, stories that Capote could only hint about. Leamer introduces readers to Barbara "Babe" Paley, wife of the president of CBS ("Babe had sought wealth and position, not happiness," writes Leamer, "and she achieved precisely what she wanted."); Nancy "Slim" Keith (her affair with Clark Gable was sandwiched between marriages to director Howard Hawks and producer Leland Hayward); Gloria Guinness (her fourth marriage was to one of the richest men in the world); Lee Radziwell; Italian princess Marella Agnelli and others.
Capote's Women not only spills all the page-turning scandals of his swans but also the compelling rise and fall of the diminutive gay author. This is celebrity gossip of the highest quality. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant