Cover Image: Deliberate Cruelty

Deliberate Cruelty

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I read this immediately following reading [book:Capote's Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era|57005206], basis for the new 'Feud' miniseries - primarily because the subject of THIS, Ann Woodward, is not mentioned at ALL in Leamer's book - despite being played by Demi Moore in the TV adaptation. So I was curious at the omission.

The reason is fairly simple - Ann was not really one of Capote's 'swans', and although she trafficked in the same rarified circles, they did not socialize together. Her connection was really only that Capote utilized the sensational shooting of her husband as material in his short story 'La Cote Basque 1969', part of his unfinished novel [book:Answered Prayers: The Unfinished Novel|2288], which led to his societal ostracism - and Ann's suicide.

So this suffered from a lack of Truman's presence in most of its pages, and the fact I already knew much of the details, due to Dominick Dunne's fictionalized retelling in [book:The Two Mrs. Grenvilles|18231]. Aside from that, this is really rather pedestrian reportage as far as the writing itself goes, although it was a fast, engaging read nevertheless.

My thanks to Netgalley and Atria Books for the ARC.

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Thank you to Atria Books and to NetGalley for an ARC of this book.

I have read many things about Truman Capote in the past so I was really intrigued by this book.

The connection between Anne Woodward and Truman Capote is an interesting one that unfolds like a Historical Fiction story in this book.

While it is widely known that Truman himself was a character, I didn't know a lot about his women friends whom he referred to as his "Swans".

This book is full of twists ending in murder and suicide. Overall I thought that it was really well written and kept me guessing until the end.

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As the old axiom goes, truth is often stranger than fiction, that’s definitely the case in Roseanne Montillo’s clever nonfiction book on the mid-century scandals that rocked Manhattan’s diamond and platinum elite in “Deliberate Cruelty—Truman Capote, the Millionaire’s Wife, and the Murder of the Century.”

A quote from a story of Capote’s is the genius of this book’s title. “There is only one unpardonable sin—deliberate cruelty.”

As you will discover while reading this intriguing book, Capote perpetrated multiple acts of unforgivable DELIBERATE CRUELTY. His unforgivable maliciousness of publishing an article in a national magazine quoting many of his powerful friends (weakly disguised by funny names), thereby exposing their deepest, darkest secrets— that only he knew—in a public forum.

Capote was a brilliant writer and conversationalist. Some even called him a genius. Why did he commit social suicide? This is an interesting question considering Capote’s history. Read and make your own judgment.

As you become completely engaged in this non-fiction tell-all, you will keep turning pages long into the evening shocked and amazed at the rags to riches lives of many people discussed, as well as the ruthless enduring enmity of others.

In conclusion, the title mentions a murder—the death of Billy Woodward Jr.; however, this book exposes much, much more. It is similar, but broader and deeper, than a previous novel, “The Swans of Fifth Avenue.” It’s a terrific nonfiction story about how the other half live and love.

JoyReaderGirl1 graciously thanks NetGalley, Author Roseanne Montillo, and Publisher Altri Books for this advanced reader’s copy (ARC) for review.

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DELIBERATE CRUELTY was a brilliant book about one of my all-time favorite authors. Truman Capote and Ann Woodward become the most fascinating people while you are reading this book. Many times, I had to remind myself that this was in fact a biography and not a work of fiction because the way Montillo told this story was downright addictive. It is a juicy, entertaining, and thrilling look into New York’s high society. Loved it!

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I loved this book from the first page. The story about Ann Woodward who grew from humble means to a marriage to one of the wealthiest men in New York was fascinating. I have always been intrigued by the life story of Truman Capote and this book bridges together the two lives so well. There has been endless speculation on what Capote did to his women friends and why they punished him so deeply,but I thought this book explained the situation extremely well. Even the concluding pages which bring together the author’s thoughts on Capote’s eventual self-destructive behavior is fascinating to read. I couldn’t put the book thought it was well-written and enormously informative and entertaining. I will definitely recommend this title to friends.

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While I knew quite a lot about Truman Capote from recent books about his "swans" and biographical movies about him. I had never heard of Ann Woodward and her story. The intertwining of the two stories kept me on the edge of my seat while I read, wondering what came next. In a way Ann Woodward was quite like Truman Capote's mother and maybe that was the fascination of Truman with Ann. Both Truman Capote and Ann Woodward made it to the top of "society" and then fell (to many people's satisfaction) and came to tragic ends Their stories are told with no judgement--just the facts and makes for an interesting read.

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This book details all six of the parents of Truman Capote, William Woodward, Jr, and Ann Woodward. Truman Capote did not like Ann and she didn't like him, Both Truman Capote and Ann Woodward were self-destructive in their actions. Ann took her own life when she learned that Truman Capote was going to publish a chapter including how she killed her husband, along with publishing all of his women friends' secrets, who were known as "Swans," private lives and their family's private lives that they told Truman in confidence, he decided to publish. He went downhill after his women friends turned their backs on him and never spoke to him again. Most all of them, the (Swans), felt that he betrayed them except for Jackie Kennedy's sister Lee. His manuscript was never found in the book he kept talking about rivaling Marcel Proust. A very captivating read.

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Definitely pick this one up if you're at all interested in 50s 60s 70s New York Society drama and celebrity. Because of my fascination with it, Truman Capote is a person I come in contact with often.

This book was well researched in my opinion, but sometimes the structure left me a little lost at what year we were in, since it would jump from Ann to Truman and back. They are both tragic characters, but I do believe that the tragedy Truman brought on himself in his later years, comes from a self destructive tendencies birthed from neglect and games played by his parents. He would have been odd no matter the situation, given the time and place, but I do wish he had found the right person to talk about his pain to.

I honestly see Ann Woodward as a victim of society, she killed her husband, but I truly believe she was afraid of a prowler and acted on instinct. She did not live a peaceful life and unfortunately that shame and pain passed generationally to her sons.

This would be a great documentary about society of the time and the writing of Capote.

I also recommend 'The Swans of 5th Ave' of you want even more of this stuff. Also 'Furious Hours' which is about Harper Lee's unfinished answer to 'In Cold Blood', after helping Truman and getting hardly the credit.

I love 'In Cold Blood', but do I love Capote? I honestly don't know, he's kind of a bitch, in a good and bad way. He's very layered, and used his insecurities as a weapon. Which unfortunately put a target on Ann Woodward since he saw so much of himself in her story.


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Deliberate Cruelty is an immersive and well written true-crime biographic retelling of Capote's fascination with the Ann & Billy Woodward murder of 1955 written and retold by Roseanne Montillo. Released 1st Nov 2022 by Simon & Schuster on their Atria imprint, it's 328 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. Paperback format due out in 2nd quarter 2023 from the same publisher. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

Truman Capote had a fraught relationship with many of his friends (and most of his family, apparently). After the publication of In Cold Blood, he became sought as a social companion and he had a talent for ferreting out gossip and innuendo. The author, Ms Montillo, does a dispassionate and somewhat clinical job of researching, reconstructing, and reporting Capote's seemingly endless disdain for the members of the beau monde with whom he associated.

Although it's written in a lurid "true crime" style, the author does an impressively rigorous job of annotation and the chapter notes and bibliography are well done and informative.

Four stars. Recommended for fans of true crime and historical novels as well as Capote fans.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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[3.25 stars]

If you love 1950's NYC society, the literati, and where they converge, you might love Deliberate Cruelty. I'll explain. Montillo dives into the lives and connections between Ann Woodward, a NYC socialite who shot and killed her husband when she mistook him for an intruder in her home, and Truman Capote (author of In Cold Blood and Other Voices, Other Rooms). This book felt a bit warmed over for me because I'd already read (and loved) two novels about these events, The Two Mrs. Grenvilles by Dominick Dunne (about the Woodward murder) and Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin (about Truman Capote and his "swans"). Deliberate Cruelty would be best for someone who has read only one of these books (or neither and loves society gossip). It's a great starter book.

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Deliberate Cruelty: Truman Capote, The Millionaire’s Wife, and the Murder of the Century by Roseanne Montillo is a 2022 Atria Books publication.

I am somewhat well versed on this topic. I’ve read books written by Capote, read books about Capote…. And his Swans. I’ve also read nonfictional material about Ann and Billy Woodward and read Dominick Dunne’s fictionalized account- “The Two Mrs. Grenvilles.”- And remember watching the movie based on that book, as well.

But, I have never read a book that combined Ann’s scandalized life story with Truman Capote's, though their lives did converge- leaving one of them dead by suicide, while the other succumbed to alcoholism, a permanent outcast from the society circles they once owned….

This book is part biography, part true crime, and part historical- but because I’ve read so much material about the two main subjects of this book, I didn’t learn anything new, really. I few nuggets of information stood out that I had not heard before- or just forgot- but other than that, for me it was just a recap or refresher course, if you will.

What made the book interesting to me was how the author made the comparison between Truman and Ann- both outsiders, both coming from backgrounds far removed from the elite New York society they both craved to belong to, though one was initially accepted with open arms, while the other was never liked, and the way their lives in one way or another spiraled downward and they both found themselves on the outside looking in. Ann killed her husband- by accident or murder- I’ll let you decide that- and Truman, for all intents and purposes, killed Ann with his poison pen.

Overall, I thought the author made her case- Ann and Truman were alike in many ways and each were, in some way responsible for the other’s demise- an angle I had not previously considered. This book, though, would probably be best for those without much knowledge of Ann, or Truman- or his Swans.

As to why Truman behaved the way he did… I have no answer. It felt like self-sabotage in a way- but again, that's for you to decide...

3 stars

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Thanks @netgalley for this advanced readers copy. Not sure what this genre is called, it is a fictionalized version of a true story. Ann Woodward was a millionaire's wife, and in 1955 killed her husband-claiming she thought he was an intruder. Truman Capote was a famous author and columnist. Both came from very poor backgrounds, and made their way up in the world. Ann's life after the murder only went downhill, and Truman contributed to it by writing about it. Then his life deteriorated as well. Some of this was interesting, but it kind of dragged on for me. #deliberatecruelty #roseannemontillo #truecrime #trumancapote #bookstagram #booklover #reader #bookblog #lovetoread #fictionreader #bookreview #bookrecommendation #readersofinstagram #bookloversofinstagram #takeapagefrommybook #readallthebooks #booksbooksbooks #netgalley

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This story was fascinating and will stay with me. I felt that I was “behind the scene” through the scandals.
Many thanks to Atria and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.

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It is very obvious within the first few pages of this book that the research was definitely done and that the stories were unique and interesting, I felt like the tie in was really reaching and the attachment was just not there in the way the book was formatted. As far as the actual writing goes, I felt that this book was extremely repetitive throughout. I would see an action or idea approached in different ways, but just saying the exact same thing. This was extremely apparent in Truman's side of the story. He was definitely despicable, however it was obvious that there was not enough content. The book kept repeating the same phrases about how he mistreated his swans and that they thought they could trust him. Thanks for the ARC, NetGalley.

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Happy to include this title in “High Society,” the rich, royal, and aristocrat-themed gift list about the good life, as part of the holiday books package in Zoomer magazine’s Zed Books section.

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An interesting non-fiction book that reads like a novel interweaving the lives of a socialite (by marriage) and Truman Capote. The author delineates parallels between Ann Woodward's and Truman Capote's life even suggesting that she was one of the "Swans" in his notorious "Answered Prayers." This book was a good attempt but in the end did not pull together for me. I found myself bored in parts due to repetition and didn't feel it flowed well. I enjoyed the parts about Truman Capote more than the parts about Ann Woodward.

Thank you Netgalley and Atria Books for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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I had high hopes for this book, as the subject sounded very interesting. A high society killing (perhaps murder?) and the involvement of the great Truman Capote in subsequent, related events. Unfortunately, the book didn't live up to my hopes. The stories of Ann Woodward and Truman Capote touch in limited ways, and the author never really pulls them together in a real and substantial way. She strongly suggests that Truman Capote's retelling of Ms. Woodward's killing of her husband in a thinly veiled fictionalized story drove her to suicide, but she doesn't really prove that case, or even come close to proving it. There's way too much speculation in this book. This may have happened and that may have happened. Yes, but that doesn't really add anything. Also, she repeats herself, to the point that I found myself thinking, "yes, you said that already."

Also, the author makes factual errors and fails to support contentions. As bad as causing questions about the accuracy of assertions she makes, her writing style isn't exactly captivating. She recites various pieces of a disjointed story in the style of a lengthy school paper. This happened and that happened and the other thing happened, but there's no writing style to draw the reader in and pull together the disparate pieces.

I appreciate having gotten an advanced reader copy of this book, which makes me feel even worse about a bad review, but it just wasn't that good.

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My thanks to Atria books, Roseanne Montillo and Netgalley.
I hated this book!
Not actually the author, just the damn story.
What awful, truly dispicable humans.

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I did not know the history of Ann Woodward nor Truman Capote and this well written and well researched book made me aware of their lives and the true crime from an era that I seldom read about.
Thanks for sharing this unknown era for me.

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Roseanne Montillo ties together the lives of two New Yorkers — Ann Woodward and Truman Capote — in this new history. Capote infamously skewered Woodward in his short story La Cote Basque and in "Deliberate Cruelty" Montillo documents how that came to be, starting with a slight Woodward made against Capote years earlier. True crime and Capote obsessives won't find much new here, but those new to the topic will enjoy the lively read.

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