Deliberate Cruelty: Truman Capote, the Millionaire's Wife, and the Murder of the Century by Roseanne Montillo
Published by Atria Books
Publication date: November 1, 2022
Genres: Book Clubs, Non-fiction, Biography, Crime, History, Pop culture
I’ve always had a fascination with high society and the people who chronicle it. Fiction like The Swans of Fifth Avenue and memoirs like Dilettante are some of my favorite reading. In keeping with that theme, but straying from the ‘giving thanks’ aspect of the week, I’m back with a bit of wealthy people behaving badly nonfiction in Deliberate Cruelty by Roseanne Montillo.
A brief bit of history: In the 1960s the Woodwards were an extremely wealthy banking family. Billy, the only son and heir married a woman “not of their kind”. How “not” I’ll leave you to discover. Two children and innumerable fights later, the couple is permanently on the outs, but a divorce would be a disaster for the young Mrs. Woodward. One night in their Hamptons estate, Ann Woodward shot and killed an intruder. Who turned out to be her husband. What was even more shocking to the rich and famous was she got away with it.
Deliberate Cruelty begins with the early lives of two highly ambitious people determined to live lives of wealth and power. Ann Crowell and Truman Persons were both the only child of working-class, single mothers. Ann grew up in Kansas while Truman was of the Deep South. Both found their childhoods to be abhorrent, Ann because she was poor and Truman because he was gay and bullied. Both left their homes and headed to NYC to fulfill their ambitions, where Ann initially worked as a showgirl while Truman changed his last name to Capote and was a published author by the time he was 24. Montillo charts their separate paths to the same golden goal—high society. Her marriage and his talent landed them both exactly where they wanted to be. Until they met.
Mention to either Woodward or Capote how much alike they were and you would be battered by the resulting verbal assault. They loathed each other, yet at their core, they were very similar—two outcasts determined to be part of a world that looked down on them. That they turned on each other with such tragic results is ironic and makes for scandalous reading in Deliberate Cruelty.
This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on a link and make a purchase of any kind, I get a small commission (at no cost to you).