Book Review: Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.

Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman
Published By: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: August 2011
Buy it at Amazon or IndieBound
Audience: Adult - Nonfiction

Nonfiction isn't always my cup of tea, but I was drawn to this book for two reasons. One, I have always been interested in reading books that put an interesting spin on social history. Second, I loved the cover. I have to admit that although I think Audrey Hepburn is extremely glamorous and I am drawn to works of art using her image, I have never seen Breakfast at Tiffany's. Shameful, I know. However, Wasson's book has encouraged me to remedy that as soon as possible. I also plan to read Breakfast at Tiffany's since there are major differences between the film and book. I didn't know that Truman Capote wrote Breakfast at Tiffany's. I learned so much from this book; it is full of interesting tidbits.

This book is a fascinating read that dives into the behind the scenes of movie production. I have always been interested in how film has evolved through the decades. I imagine that the censors from the 1950's would be appalled by the amount of sex and nudity that dominates movies these days. I always knew the guidelines back then were strict, but this book really explains how difficult it was to make a films with adult topics. I was also fascinated by learning more about the lives of Audrey Hepburn and Truman Capote. I had no idea that Truman wanted Marilyn Monroe to play the title role and that the studio decided to go with Hepburn instead. I can't imagine Marilyn in this role. Another interesting element of this book was the fashion history behind Audrey's look and the iconic little black dress. I never realized how much drama lurked behind clothes.

Not only is this book fascinating, but it is not full of the dry, verbose writing that so many nonfiction books contain. I eagerly devoured each word within the span of two days. Putting this book down was not an option. If you're an Audrey Hepburn fan or enjoy entertainment history, then this is a must read. Readers of women's history and social history will also enjoy this one. This book would have been an excellent addition to the required readings in some of my college history classes. Wasson does an amazing job of showing the transition of the American woman through the lens of Hepburn's career.

One Last Gripe: I did find my mind wandering during certain sections about the writing of the music for the movie

My Favorite Thing About This Book: All the behind the scenes drama and conflict

First Sentence: Traveling was forced upon little Truman Capote from the beginning.

Audrey Hepburn is an icon like no other, yet the image many of us have of Audrey—dainty, immaculate—is anything but true to life. Here, for the first time, Sam Wasson presents the woman behind the little black dress that rocked the nation in 1961. The first complete account of the making of Breakfast at Tiffany's, Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. reveals little-known facts about the cinema classic: Truman Capote desperately wanted Marilyn Monroe for the leading role; director Blake Edwards filmed multiple endings; Hepburn herself felt very conflicted about balancing the roles of mother and movie star. With a colorful cast of characters including Truman Capote, Edith Head, Givenchy, "Moon River" composer Henry Mancini, and, of course, Hepburn herself, Wasson immerses us in the America of the late fifties before Woodstock and birth control, when a not-so-virginal girl by the name of Holly Golightly raised eyebrows across the country, changing fashion, film, and sex for good. Indeed, cultural touchstones like Sex and the City owe a debt of gratitude to Breakfast at Tiffany's. In this meticulously researched gem of a book, Wasson delivers us from the penthouses of the Upper East Side to the pools of Beverly Hills, presenting Breakfast at Tiffany's as we have never seen it before—through the eyes of those who made it. Written with delicious prose and considerable wit, Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. shines new light on a beloved film and its incomparable star.

Check out the other blogs on this tour:

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

Learn more about the author, Sam Wasson, on his website or follow him on Twitter.


  1. I almost bought this book at the airport last week. I love Breakfast at Tiffany's and Audrey Hepburn, but to be honest minus a few minor things the book and the movie are the same, even the words the characters say are the same. Also, did you know that Truman Capote actually despised Audrey Hepburn and didn't want her to play the role. <--- after typing this I reread and saw that you did.

  2. @KThomas5 - It was a really interesting read. Truman's feelings about Audrey are discussed in the book. Also, the differences that the book mentioned between film and book were mainly the changes to characters and things they had to do to appease the censorship board. Since I have seen the film or read the book, I was making those statements totally based on this book.

  3. I agree that the cover is fabulous. I love Hepburn's black dress, and I'd love to know the drama surrounding it!

    This sounds like the kind of book that would give you great tidbits you could pull out when you were with your girlfriends. Fun!

    Thanks for being on the tour!


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