Deliberate Cruelty Falls Short in Portrayal of Ann Woodward

In Deliberate Cruelty, author Marymont Montillo presents speculation and rumour surrounding Truman Capote’s portrayal of socialite Ann Woodward in his unfinished novel Answered Prayers. Montillo suggests that the depiction was a way for Capote to get revenge on Woodward, whom he supposedly disliked because she reminded him of his own mother. However, the book fails to address the larger issue of misogyny and classism at play in Woodward’s story.

In recent years, exonerated murder suspect Amanda Knox has spoken out about the media’s tendency to mix fact with gendered speculation in true crime stories. This critique can also be applied to Montillo’s portrayal of Woodward, who faced slut-shaming and isolation from her former social circle.

The book also speculates that Woodward’s suicide, three days before an excerpt of Answered Prayers was set to be published in Esquire, may have been related to the story’s revival of a past scandal. However, there is no evidence that Woodward was aware of this particular excerpt or that it was the sole factor in her death. The book fails to acknowledge that Woodward may have been struggling with mental health issues and the suicides of her two sons in the years following her own death.

Overall, Deliberate Cruelty presents a one-sided and incomplete picture of Ann Woodward and the events surrounding her death. It fails to delve deeper into the societal forces at play and instead focuses on salacious rumors and speculation.

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