Leamer, a prolific biographer, deftly tells the stories of the stylish, glamorous women whose trust Capote cultivated and then betrayed ... Mr. Leamer has delivered a fast-paced, sensitive tale of the swans, their tumultuous lives and their dismay at Capote’s treachery.
Capote’s own life story was so intertwined with his remarkable friendships that it’s impossible to understand the man without the friends. What Capote's Women captures is how these myriad and multilayered friendships came about and nourished him for so long, until his inner demons proved too damning for all but a few of his faithful.
As one reads, again and again, the stories which could fill so many juicy gossip columns, all the affairs and scandals and catty slights, there is dawning realization of banality and repetition to the glamorous lives of these women. What is refreshing about Leamer, though, is that while here and there he will make remarks condemning the morals and attitudes portrayed by these women and their often-repulsive husbands, he allows the reader to mostly draw their own conclusions. He is no soporific moralist ... Always intriguing and averse to philosophic musings, Leamer thankfully does not try to do what Truman could not. His prose is brisk and clean, making only minor indulgences in lavish details that are appropriate given the material. He is also not bogged down by the need for endless quotations inserted cumbersomely into the text, though that is not to say it is poorly researched. In a way, the book’s style reflects more of a celebrity tell-all rather than a historical biography ... Leamer can be critical when he wants, but he’s always subtle and conscientious of the complexity of these women’s circumstances. His subjects are treated with a delicacy and care that reveal a great sympathy and even occasional admiration.