The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin (2016)
Babe fascinated me. She was known for her beauty, she was always impeccably dressed and completely gracious. But her marriage was pretty much a sham. Her husband no longer desired her and had many affairs. She was incredibly lonely. Truman was exactly what she needed in a friend, and he was the only person with whom she was completely honest. Injured in an accident when she was very young, Babe had false teeth and facial scars, but nobody except Truman ever saw her without her teeth and full makeup, even her husband. Her existence seemed exhausting, the constantly facade she had to maintain, and for what?
Truman was very hard to pin down. He was genuinely devoted to Babe, and even to some of their other friends, but he lacked good judgement. He eventually published a story full of their secrets, told to him in confidence, and somehow thought they wouldn't be angry at him. Throughout the novel he turned from a young, fun, promising writer to a troubled, unhealthy, heavy drinker who was crushed by the pressure to write something that could live up to the mastery of In Cold Blood. It left me wanting to read more about his real life.
This book was just full of flawed characters who did awful things to each other, but with whom I couldn't help but sympathize. I loved all the glamour and drama and secrets. I read this on my vacation, and it was just perfect for a sunny day lazing about drinking cocktails on a cruise ship. But I imagine I would have enjoyed it just as much had I been at home.