I read a library copy of this book a while ago (pre-blog) and loved it. But since then my tastes have really changed and I've been desperate to get my own copy and re-read it to see if it lives up to my memory. So I put it on my birthday wishlist and was super excited when my brother bought it for me.
Breakfast at Tiffany's
Genre:Novella, character study (though that's not really a genre...)
One-sentence summary:The unnamed narrator tells the story of his encounter and subsequent friendship with Holly Golightly, and the various quirks, flaws and mishaps that make her who she is.
Review:This was one of the first books I read at the start of my getting-back-into-reading phase (I think I was about 18...), where I was just beginning to discover the variety of beautifully-written, strange and wonderful books out there. I got a load of books out of the library before a week's holiday and ploughed through at least a book a day! This was one of the first of those books, all of which really opened my eyes to the world of reading as an adult. And not only that, but the book itself turned out to be so much more than I expected! Judging from my vague notions of the film (which I've never seen), I had imagined a fluffy, light romance with Holly Golightly as the quirky and fun main character. But what I got was so much more than that, and I'll never forget my first experience of the book for those reasons. That was probably why I was a little apprehensive about my re-read. What if I didn't love it as much as the first time? What if it ruined the book for me?
Well, I'm glad to say that I loved it just as much, if not more, this time around. Holly's character is deeply flawed and completely infuriating at times, but I found her fascinating just as the narrator does. The book touched on some interesting points about taking people as they are and not expecting them to change, which somehow sounds quite simplistic as I write it, but is delivered with beautiful subtlety through the narrator's (and reader's) oscillation between being fascinated by her character and infuriated by it.
There are some truly poignant moments where Holly is trying to figure out where she belongs in the world, and you get glimpses of her past which hint at a much bigger back-story. You never know exactly what she's thinking, but you get to know her as the narrator does - through a series of social interactions, and much speculation. She's just one of those characters that you can't stop thinking about, and can't work out whether you really like her or not. She's so interesting that she completely eclipses the narrator himself, which is something I didn't notice so much the first time around. He is so fascinated by Holly and her struggle to find herself, that he avoids looking at himself too closely.
Just as I can't work out how I feel about Holly, I'm finding it hard to pinpoint my feelings about this book. I know that I loved it, but I'm not sure to what extent. I think the complexity of Holly's character and my complicated feelings towards her are signs of an accomplished novel (or novella!) - over-simplistic characters aren't like real people! I still feel hesitant about recommending the book though, because I think people won't feel the same as me, especially if they've seen the film first!
How about you? Do you prefer the film? What do you think of the book? Let me know in the comments!