This glittering, “wild romp of a story, boldly and beautifully told” (Neal Thompson, author of The First Kennedys) explores the darkly intertwined fates of infamous socialite Ann Woodward and literary icon Truman Capote, sweeping us to the upper echelons of Manhattan’s high society—where falls from grace are all the more shocking.
When Ann Woodward shot her husband, banking heir Billy Woodward, in the middle of the night in 1955, her life changed forever. Though she claimed she thought he was a prowler, few believed the woman who had risen from charismatic showgirl to popular socialite. Everyone had something to say about the scorching scandal afflicting one of the most rich and famous families of New York City, but no one was more obsessed with the tale than Truman Capote.
Acclaimed for his bestselling nonfiction book In Cold Blood, Capote was looking for new material and followed the scandal from beginning to end. Like Ann, he too had ascended from nobody to toast of the town, but he always felt like an outsider, even among the exclusive coterie of high society women who adored him. He decided the story of Ann’s turbulent marriage would be the basis of his masterpiece—a novel about the dysfunction and sordid secrets revealed to him by his high society “swans”—never thinking that it would eventually lead to Ann’s suicide and his own scandalous downfall.
“A 20th-century morality tale of enduring fascination” (Laura Thompson, author of The Heiresses), Deliberate Cruelty is a haunting cross between true crime and literary history that is perfect for fans of Furious Hours, Empty Mansions, and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
In this engrossing account, research librarian Montillo (Atomic Women: The Untold Stories of the Scientists Who Helped Create the Nuclear Bomb) recreates a tragic cause célèbre. On November 15, 1955, Billy Woodward was shot to death in his Long Island home by his wife, Ann, who later insisted that she had mistaken him for a burglar. Her story, which had more than a few holes in it, was persuasive enough that a Nassau grand jury declined to charge her with murder. Montillo punctiliously reconstructs Ann's painful life, including her failed attempt at becoming a movie star like her role model, Joan Crawford, and her troubled marriage to a philanderer, who may have been bisexual and whom she had wed after having a sexual relationship with his father. In addition, the author details the life of author Truman Capote, who planned to write an epic novel, Answered Prayers, "that would rival Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time," inspired by Ann's killing of her spouse. That never happened, but Capote's publication of a purported excerpt from it led Ann to die by suicide in 1975. True crime fans particularly interested in bloodshed among the upper classes will enjoy this dark look at two intertwined and unhappy lives.
Mostly a biography of Truman Capote
Lots and lots of details about people other than Ann Woodward and Truman Capote. I found all that distracting filler. Not at all what I was expecting. If you are looking for a story about the death of Ann Woodward, pass on this book. That part of her story was not mentioned at all.