Monday, September 19, 2011

Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. - Sam Wasson

Title: Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman
Author: Sam Wasson
Paperback: 231 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Published Date: August 30, 2011
FTC: review copy from TLC Book Tours

When I saw TLC Book Tours was touring Sam Wasson's book Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. I was so intrigued.  Breakfast at Tiffany's is such an iconic movie.  I adore old movies.  TCM is my favorite TV channel and I love Audrey Hepburn (although my big brother is even a bigger fan) and we grew up watching her movies.  I also grew up listening to my dad's records - one being Henry Mancini - and even today I sing Moon River to my little guy.  When my brother visited us in New York, we made a point to see Tiffany's - it was around Christmas so we didn't do breakfast there but we still snagged a photo (see end of review).

Why does this all matter?  Because like Sam Wasson's P.S. section at the end of the book, I too find it amazing that almost everyone knows the image of Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly - even if they've never seen the movie.

While Breakfast at Tiffany's isn't my favorite Hepburn movie, it is definitely, I think, the most iconic.  Why?

I found her character so intriguing that it spawned my interest in the original story by Truman Capote - an author I came to respect after reading In Cold Blood in high school.  While living in New York, I found a copy of Breakfast at Tiffany's at a library book sale and snagged it up.  You can read my review here.


What amazed me even more is how a story about a call girl could be adapted in the sixties during strict production codes, and how woman today just think the movie is so "romantic."  I wanted to know what Capote thought of his story being altered to fit the time period's strict code and how Audrey Hepburn went from sweet Princess Ann in Roman Holiday to an iconic sex symbol.

Coming back to Sam Wasson's book, I found it fascinating.  He divides the book into eight chapters and just look at the chapter titles: Thinking It, Wanting It, Seeing It, Touching It, Liking It, Doing It, Loving It, Wanting More.  Then he lists the cast of characters such as Hepburn, Blake Edwards (director), and co-stars such as Marilyn Monroe.  Did you know Monroe wanted to play the part of Holly Golightly? What a different movie it would have been.  There's also a really cool map listing Holly Golightly's New York.  How I wish I had this when I lived there.  He even includes a photo of Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard sitting at the fountain that was right next door to my work on Park Avenue where I'd sometimes sit and have lunch.  So cool.

While sometimes I felt like Sam Wasson's book was a bit like a college thesis expanded, his writing more than made up for it.  While non-fiction, he writes with such character that it was never boring or long.  I would sit down to read a few pages and then realize that I had read a good twenty pages or so.  You could really breeze right through it in a sitting or two.  At the end of the book he recognizes that while non-fiction, he didn't want to pepper it with a ton of citations.  So he lists some of his sources and notes at the end and even those were chock full of interesting facts.

If you are a fan of Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, old movies, or can just relate to Holly Golightly - a "dreamer of dreams" - then this is the book for you.

Here's the photo my brother took of me at Tiffany's:

Sam’s Tour Dates

Tuesday, August 30th: Wandering Thoughts of a Scientific Housewife
Thursday, September 1st: Reviews from the Heart
Tuesday, September 6th: Reading Lark
Wednesday, September 7th: A Cozy Reader’s Corner
Thursday, September 8th: Books Like Breathing
Monday, September 12th: Elle Lit.
Tuesday, September 13th: Amused By Books
Wednesday, September 14th: Iwriteinbooks’s blog
Thursday, September 15th: Alison’s Book Marks
Monday, September 19th: A Library of My Own
Tuesday, September 20th: The Road to Here
Wednesday, September 21st: Sophisticated Dorkiness
Friday, September 23rd: My Bookshelf

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