Book Club Guide: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

The purpose of our Book Club Guides is to recommend books for your book club and provide guidance for discussion. This book guide focuses on Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

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While the film may be more well known, Breakfast at Tiffany’s first appeared in 1958 as a novella by Truman Capote. The story focuses on Holly Golightly, a charismatic young woman with a mysterious past with whom many suitors have become captivated.

The purpose of our Book Club Guides is to recommend books for your book club and provide guidance for discussion. This book guide focuses on Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Book Review: Plot, Pros and Cons

The novella’s narrator is a writer living in New York City who was once a neighbor of Holly Golightly. The reader only knows him as “Fred,” a name Holly gives him for his resemblance to her brother. This demonstrates just how much power she has in this narrative; we only know the narrator’s based on how Holly refers to him, even though he is telling the story.

At the time Breakfast at Tiffany’s begins, Holly’s whereabouts have been unknown to the narrator for some time. A mutual friend believes he has evidence of where she might be and contacts “Fred,” thus inspiring him to tell the story of Holly. As the readers, we hear the story this way — the narrator’s past experiences with an enigmatic woman.

On the surface Holly is beautiful and charming. She spends her time out on the town, weaving her place into the city’s society, and paying visits to Sing Sing Prison. Holly seems to exude an effortless glamor, and while she has a carousel of acquaintances at her beck and call, she keeps them all at arm’s length.

Holly claims to be a wild thing; she hates to see anything in a cage for fear of becoming caged herself. She clings to her independence, preferring permanent travel to settling down. As the story goes on, however, the cracks in her glamorous facade emerge. It appears the thing she may want most is a place to feel at home, a place that makes her feel the way Tiffany’s does.

This is a great book to choose for your book club for many reasons. First, as a novella, it’s short, so most people will have the time to read it. Second, the story is interesting and written well, so there are many things to discuss in terms of plot and craft. Third, with such a famous film based on the book, that opens up plenty of opportunities for comparing and contrasting. For instance, in the film, Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly is as enchanting as could be. On paper, however, she is not so likable.

Additionally, many parts of the story are changed between the book and the film. The relationship between “Fred,” who is called Paul in the movie, and Holly is quite different, for instance. And Holly in the novella is a much rougher character than the charming Holly of the film.  This provides plenty of opportunity for comparing and contrasting between the book and the film. You could even watch the film all together at your meeting before beginning to discuss, or have it on in the background. 

Finally, as Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a common party theme, there are plenty of decorations and activities to give your book club meeting an extra lift. If you rotate the days and times of your meetings, make this one a brunch meeting. Bring out the croissants and champagne and dress up your space in Tiffany blue. 

Discussion Topics

Here we have some questions and topics for discussion for your book club meeting.

  1. Is Holly an unfeeling or a sympathetic character? Does she truly care for the people she knows or is she only concerned with herself? How do you think Holly’s upbringing influences the way she is in the story?
  2. What is the purpose of knowing the narrator only by the name Holly gives him?
  3. Do you sympathize with the narrator? Why or why not?
  4. Holly says “Never love a wild thing… you can’t give your heart to a wild thing: the more you do, the stronger they get. Until they’re strong enough to run into the woods.” Is she right?
  5. Compare and contrast the film and the book. How are they similar? How are they different? Which do you prefer? Why?

In Conclusion

Therefore, in short, yes, your book club should read Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The book is great, the film is lovely, and it makes for a great party theme. So grab some pastries and start mixing up mimosas, there’s plenty to chat about when it comes to Holly Golightly.

Have you read Breakfast at Tiffany’s? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!

Happy reading! Cheers!

Book Club Guide Breakfast at Tiffanys

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