27 October 2008

One Fifth Avenue (Candace Bushnell)

Available at all good bookstores, courtesy of Penguin Books South Africa

Yes, Candace Bushnell's latest work, One Fifth Avenue, is very Sex And The City. Lots of couture and money and nose-in-the-air New York culture. Lots of very explicit but very interesting sex. And lots of feuds, secrets and foibles, a la Carrie, Miranda, et al.

But, more than that, One Fifth Avenue is what would happen if the SATC girls aged twenty years, developed a bizarre obsession with high-end property (and I mean obsession, not girly awe) and married Ben Elton. Why Ben Elton, you ask, and not a grizzled, grumpy older version of Mr Big? Well, there's some weird murderous stuff in this book; some dark scary overtones that I don't recall feeling in Bushnell's debut novel. And these inject a touch of Elton-esque farcical blackness into an otherwise fluffy (yet tightly penned and colourfully charactered) story.

It's about five women: actress Schiffer, spoiled Lola, classy Annalisa, miserable Mindy and eccentric Enid.

She's a particular delight, the glam old duck and popular gossip columnist who "has lived at One Fifth for decades and sees everything there is to see from her penthouse view". Wanna be her, when I grow up. Picture an amalgamation of Audrey Hepburn and Carol Burnett... with the backbone and brains of Boston Legal's Shirley Schmidt.

In short? One Fifth is nowhere near as iconic as its more fashionable sibling (grand-daughter, maybe?), but certainly worth a week at the beach this December, with the obligatory Cosmo - or perhaps a pink gin?


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