“People read themselves into books, altering what they need &
discarding what they don’t.”
– Charles Bukowski
This month I have been reading The Swans of Fifth Avenue, and I have found myself identifying with the character Babe Paley. Who, by the way, was actually a beautiful socialite living in NY in the 50s. This book is considered fiction, but it is layered with so much history, it almost mirrors a biography or fan fiction. The book is written about Truman Capote and the scandal the ensued after the publication of his novel “Answered Prayers.” You can read more on that here.
But back to Babe. Of course, we all read ourselves into stories, and who wouldn’t want to identify with Babe!? She is the beauty of the story. However, it is not her glamour or status that I identify with. I find myself identifying with the character’s insecurities, her mannerisms, and approach to relationships…the way I once identified with Esther in The Bell Jar, or Holly in Breakfast at Tiffanys.
I have often found that a book transcends from being simply a book, to one of the many loves of my life, in just one moment. It is the moment that you read a passage or a quote that resonates with something so authentically you. I think the beauty in that moment is: from then on the rest of the book is self discovery.
“I am out with lanterns, looking for myself…”
It is not everyday or even every year that I find a book I feel this way about. When it happens though, it really is like falling in love. And in that same fashion, I have found that no matter how the story ends, I have recognized some part of myself in those pages, and always treasure that.
With all that said – in the spirit of authenticity and makeup, I wanted to share this lovely passage here:
“And to tell the truth, she was dependent on her cosmetics as others might be dependent on alcohol, in a tactile, pleasurable way. She loved the faint, flowery smell of her favorite blush; she delighted in the heavy silver of the brushes, the silkiness of the bristles against her skin. She enjoyed applying foundation, personally mixed for her by Elizabeth Arden herself, taking the sponge and dabbing it on her skin, each dab like a scale of armor, of power. She never grew tired of seeing her cheekbones come into sculpted glory with each swipe of the brush; she stared into the mirror as she blended and stroked and dabbed, and little by little, like pointillism, the face she knew and depended on, emerged into a complete portrait. Perfection.”
-Melanie Benjamin; The Swans of Fifth Avenue
P.S. You can find the book here =)