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FOUR BLONDES by Candace Bushnell

FOUR BLONDES

By Candace Bushnell

Pub Date: Sept. 20th, 2000
ISBN: 0-87113-819-0
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

From the writer of the original Sex and the City (1996), the source of the HBO series, four loosely linked stories (being marketed as a novel) about the glamorous exteriors and unfulfilled interiors of high-status, no-longer-young New Yorkers.

Starting with her New York Observer columns, Bushnell has chronicled the romantic plights of 30-ish women who look like they have everything, and spend their time trying to believe it. Here, she does a fine job of sketching her characters and portraying, both satirically and realistically, their elite social ecology (with enough of a roman à clef feel to get people talking), but the longer pieces call for greater narrative skills than Bushnell's able to muster. In “Nice N’Easy,” beautiful, cynical, gold-digger Janey Wilcox (whose situation strikingly parallels Lily Bart’s in The House of Mirth) has traded in her looks and the semi-celebrity of a once-promising modeling/acting career for a string of wealthy, unpleasant, summer boyfriends, tolerated for their luxurious Hamptons houses. A bid for independence (her own summer rental, paid for by a married Hollywood mogul plus an attempt at writing) fails, but an unexpected contract as a Victoria’s Secret model puts her back on top, and enables her to buy her own house. Likewise, in the amusing but slight “Crossing the Pond,” a blond, 40-ish, New York sex columnist travels to London in search of a husband, and leaves disappointed, only to find herself on the flight home seated next to the man she’s been looking. In grimmer scenarios, “Highlights (For Adults),” a driven, tightly wound journalist considers leaving her disappointing, less ambitious husband but, instead, both have flings and regroup; and in “Snow Angels,” Cecilia—part Princess Grace, part Princess Di—falls apart in New York and Cannes, abetted by her dangerous, Courtney Love–like, new best friend.

Like a Bushnell character: glittery and irresistible but, likewise, ultimately unsatisfying.