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Guest Review: SUCH GOOD FRIENDS: A Novel of Truman Capote and Lee Radziwill by Stephen Greco


A must-read for fans of Truman Capote and Jackie Kennedy, this star-studded, evocative novel revels in the glamor, gossip, and casual betrayal of 1960s and ’70s high society New York and the socialite “swans” that ruled this scandalous world. On a Thursday morning in May 1961, a well-mannered twenty-one-year-old named Marlene enters the Fifth Avenue apartment of Lee Radziwill to interview for the position of housekeeper and cook. The stylish wife of London-based Prince Stanislaw Radziwill, Princess Lee is intelligent and creative, with ambitions beyond simply jet-setting. But to the public, she is always First Lady Jackie Kennedy’s little sister. As Marlene becomes a trusted presence in the Radziwill household, she observes the dazzling array of famous figures who flit in and out of Lee’s intimate circle, including Gloria Vanderbilt, Rudolf Nureyev, Jackie and the President, Ari Onassis, Gore Vidal, Andy Warhol, and, most regularly, celebrated author Truman Capote. At the height of his fame following the success of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman granted Lee a place of honor in his flock of glamorous socialite “swans.” Their closeness stems from an unexpected kinship. Both know too well the feeling of being second-best. Seeing his shadow in the woman he refers to as his most unconventional swan, Truman uses his influence and talent to try and make Lee a star. Their bond deepens through the decade’s extraordinary events, from JFK’s assassination to the era-defining Black and White Ball. But Marlene, whom Truman has taken under his wing as an aspiring writer, can see Truman’s darker side—especially his penchant for mining his friends’ private lives for material. And there are betrayals on either side that may signal the end not just of a friendship, but of the shared expectation that wealth and fame can shield against every heartbreak.



“My flight had been delayed. There was a mix-up over my seat assignment.  But my best friend Judy met me at JFK with a hired town car, which I thought a terribly sweet thing to do, and so typical of her.”


GUEST REVIEW by Sophia Rose

Aptly titled Such Good Friends is the historical fiction of a celebrity friendship against the glittering backdrop of New York society in the 1960s and 1970s by Stephen Greco, a new author to me.


I’m not usually drawn to stories featuring celebrities and socialites, but Such Good Friends...I was curious about the glitz and glam lifestyles and lives of The Sixties’ society big names. I wasn’t familiar with Truman Capote beyond the movie adaptions of a couple of his books, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood, so Capote and his ‘Swans’—the rich socialite women he was friends with—were all new to me.  What an eye-opener to discover how the upper crust lived back in the day.  


The story is mostly told through the eyes of a fictional character, Marlene, a Cuban American with a mysterious past who, at a young age, becomes Jackie Kennedy's sister Lee Radzill’s housekeeper and cook. While the part that intrigued me—the rarified world of the wealthy and the big-name personalities—was fabulously delivered, I can’t say the book was riveting nor did I feel vested in the principal characters. The pacing was slow, and the plot was murky, much of the time jumping from social activity to social activity. Readers might not want to approach this one expecting a typical historical fiction plot. More like a memoir read, really.  


Still, Such Friends was fascinating. Truman Capote and Lee Radziwill, along with their setting, were brought vividly to life, and it was obvious author Stephen Greco did his homework.


White man with dark hair wearing black-frame eyes glasses and black turtleneck
Author Stephen Greco. Author photo by DAVID A. PEREZ


Stephen Greco is the editorial director of Inside Risk and editor-at-large of the magazine Upstate Diary. He has contributed to and/or served as editor for Air Mail, Elle Décor, Interview, MTV online, New York, the New York Times, Opera News, Stagebill, Trace, and the Village Voice, among others. Greco is the author of the novel Now and Yesterday (Kensington, 2014). His most recent novel, Such Good Friends, based on the friendship of Truman Capote and Lee Radziwill, was published by Kensington in May 2023. For the stage, Greco has written Peter and the Wolf in Hollywood, an orchestral-theatrical work from Giants Are Small, the partnership of Edouard Getaz and Doug Fitch, that premiered at the Kennedy Center in 2017. With Fitch, Greco has written the multi-media works How Did We…? (2014, University of Buffalo Center for the Arts) and Punkitititi/Breakfast Included (2020, Salzburg Marionette Theater, Salzburg Mozarteum). Greco wrote the libretto for the Victoria Bond opera How Gulliver Returned Home in a Manner that was Very Not Direct and is working on musical theater projects with composers Scott Wheeler and Douglas Cuomo. Among the celebrity interviews that Greco has done for various publications are Maya Angelou, Geoffrey Beene, Joan Juliet Buck, Trisha Brown, DJ Cam, Wes Craven, Quentin Crisp, Merce Cunningham, Diane von Furstenberg, Frank Gehry, Allen Ginsberg, Marcelo Gomes, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Cynthia Gregory, Arianna Huffington, Patti LuPone, Gelsey Kirkland, Spike Lee, Marilyn Minter, Errol Morris, Jane Moss, Nana Mouskouri, Mark Morris, Mike Nichols, Yoko Ono, Sir Peter Pears, Ned Rorem, Andre Leon Talley, Donald Trump, and Kehinde Wiley. Greco lives in Brooklyn, New York.


Sophia is a quiet, curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, piano-playing, and gardening. Road trips and campouts, museums and monuments, restaurants, and theaters are her jam. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and a loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, baseball, cats, Scooby Doo, and chocolate.

As a lifelong reader, it was inevitable that Sophia would discover book blogs and the joy of blog reviewing. In 2012, she submitted her first book review and is currently an associate reviewer.

Sophia is a prolific reader and audiobook listener allowing her to experience many wonderful books, authors, and narrators. Few genres are outside her reading tastes, but her true love is fiction, particularly history, mystery, sci-fi, and romance. Sorry, no horror...or she will run like Shaggy and Scooby. Connect with Sophia via FACEBOOK  GOODREADS TWITTER 


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