The Fabulous Miss Holly Golightly
Book trailer for Brenda Thornlow's latest novel Life, As Is!
When I think of the type of women characters whom I wanted to grow to be like, it was never anyone like Cinderella or one of the myriad princesses you read or watch cartoons about who found her fictitious “Prince Charming.” I never cared for the women from fairy tales which, when originally written, did not have the cutesy, happy endings that Disney gave to them. I never saw myself that way. I wanted to be Wonder Woman or one of Charlie’s Angels. As I child I was the proud owner of the Charlie’s Angels dolls with Angels’ van to go with them. I would stick them in that van with the psychedelic stickers on it and have them drive off to kick some ass. This usually involced them running over or smashing into one of the baby dolls that my mother used to buy for me and, for the life of her, couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t play house with them and preferred to destroy them instead. Growing up I never celebrated Halloween so the closest thing I had to a Wonder Woman costume were the Underoos. I so wished I had the bullet proof bracelets and tiara to match!
So as you can see I never was a girly-girl. I also had a very independent nature that I most definitely did not inherit from the women in my family. This made things tough for me throughout my life as I come from an extremely conservative family who were very well-known and looked up to in our church community. I spent more than half my life trying (and failing) to live my life in such a way as to please them and not bring any embarrassment to the family; we had a reputation to uphold within the church! It wasn’t until years later, and many mistakes later, that I learned I had to live my life for myself. Not only should I not worry about what others think but at the end of the day it wasn’t any of my business what anyone else thought. Maybe my family and their “friends” were content living that way, but I wasn’t.
Breakfast at Tiffany's - Book
My Introduction to Holly
I never watched or read Breakfast at Tiffany’s until my early thirties. This was a time in my life where I was finally, 100% breaking free and living my life on my own terms. I had always heard of Holly Golightly; seen the iconic pictures of Audrey Hepburn’s perfect portrayal of Truman Capote’s creation whom he, himself, described as being “beyond childhood, yet this side of belonging to a woman.” Almost as soon as I started reading Mr. Capote’s classic I fell in love with the gamine, Holly Golightly. And it was no wonder why; she possessed the ultimate aura of liberation which, for most of my life, I felt I was never allowed to embrace until recently.
In the novella, the year is 1943, and Holly is just two months shy of her 19th birthday. Lulamae Barnes, which is the name Holly was actually born with, was born in the rural South, a purloiner of turkey eggs, who migrates to New York where she soon changed her name and status. Holly Golightly becomes a free-spirited “society girl,” accompanying rich men around town; disappearing to exotic places on a whim, notifying those around her with a simple not on her mailbox stating “Miss Holiday Golightly Traveling. The only pet she has a cat with no name. Those around her are fascinated with her and hold a special type of love for her including the local bartender, Joe Bell and the narrator whom Holly decides to name Fred, after her own brother. Contrary to the movie, Fred was fascinated and, in his own way, in love with Holly, however not in the way Hollywood wants you to believe. Fred was actually gay, which may have been one of the many reasons he became so attached to Holly; she was so unconventional she would not have judged him the way he most definitely would have in 1943.
There are a couple of opinions as to what Holly Golightly did to support herself. Whether or not she was a call girl or a gold digger is up for debate. If either is the case, nothing within the pages of the story, or even in the movie, indicates that she was doing anything against her own will. She lived life on her own terms. She also showed that she loved on her own terms when, in the novella, she says that her ideal partner would be Nehru, Wendell Wilkie or Garbo, adding that a person ought to be able to marry men or women. On screen this was changed to Nero, Albert Schweitzer and Leonard Bernstein.
Also contrary to the movie, Holly does take off to live her own life in another country. The last Fred hears from her was when he receives an unaddressed postcard from Buenos Aires. The last words she writes to him are mille tendresse, French for a thousand tenderness. Holly did at times did show vulnerabilities, for example, she became emotional at the thought of leaving her no-named cat behind when she went to travel the world, asking Fred to promise her that he would check on his well-being. However she did not allow these vulnerabilities to take over. Whatever fear she may have had about leaving her rural home for the big of New York she squashed. Same can be said for her decision to travel the world.
Capote once said that the main reason he wrote about Holly was that he saw her as a symbol of all the girls who come to New York and “spin in the sun for a moment like May flies and then disappear.” With his imagination, he wanted to rescue one girl from that anonymity and preserve her for posterity. This is exactly what he did!
(C) 2014 Brenda Thornlow
Brenda Thornlow was voted one of the 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading for 2015. She is the author of the new fiction series My Life as I Knew It; The Revolving Door; A Godless Love and her memoir, My Short-Lived Life at Being Perfect. Available at Amazon. (Link below)
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