Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Review: One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell

From one of the most consistently astute and engaging social commentators of our day comes another look at the tough and tender women of New York City--this time, through the lens of where they live.

One Fifth Avenue, the Art Deco beauty towering over one of Manhattan's oldest and most historically hip neighborhoods, is a one-of-a-kind address, the sort of building you have to earn your way into--one way or another. For the women in Candace Bushnell's new novel, One Fifth Avenue, this edifice is essential to the lives they've carefully established--or hope to establish. From the hedge fund king's wife to the aging gossip columnist to the free-spirited actress (a recent refugee from L.A.), each person's game plan for a rich life comes together under the soaring roof of this landmark building.

Acutely observed and mercilessly witty, One Fifth Avenue is a modern-day story of old and new money, that same combustible mix that Edith Wharton mastered in her novels about New York's Gilded Age and F. Scott Fitzgerald illuminated in his Jazz Age tales. Many decades later, Bushnell's New Yorkers suffer the same passions as those fictional Manhattanites from eras past: They thirst for power, for social prominence, and for marriages that are successful--at least to the public eye. But Bushnell is an original, and One Fifth Avenue is so fresh that it reads as if sexual politics, real estate theft, and fortunes lost in a day have never happened before.

From Sex and the City through four successive novels, Bushnell has revealed a gift for tapping into the zeitgeist of any New York minute and, as one critic put it, staying uncannily "just the slightest bit ahead of the curve." And with each book, she has deepened her range, but with a light touch that makes her complex literary accomplishments look easy. Her stories progress so nimbly and ring so true that it can seem as if anyone might write them--when, in fact, no one writes novels quite like Candace Bushnell. Fortunately for us, with One Fifth Avenue, she has done it again.


One Fifth Avenue is dubbed as the Gossip Girl book for those who prefer to read Edith Wharton. Or something like that, anyway. One Fifth Avenue certainly reads something like Gossip Girl, mixed with some Sex and the City.

One Fifth Avenue is about the lives of the residents and guests of One Fifth Avenue. There's Enid Merle, a long-time resident of the building; Schiffer Diamond, a movie star; Philip Oakland, a well-known screenwriter; Paul and Annalisa Rice, a hedge fund manager and his wife; and James, Mindy and Sam Gooch, a novelist, his more successful wife and their genius son.

Seeing as how I've never been to New York, I don't know how accurate the portrayal of New York is. Assuming that it's more or less correct, then yes, this is an enjoyable book.

There are some very annoying characters in this book, particularly Lola Fabrikant, Philip's manipulative and gold-digging girlfriend, and Mindy Gooch, the nutty and never-satisfied wife of novelist James Gooch.

The novel is a lot like an episode of Gossip Girl (lies, betrayal, sex) but for the older set. As such, there were parts that I found boring. It's kind of sad, though, that the characters in the novel who were my age were shallow, bitter and only interested in getting ahead and making an obscene amount of money. Lola's argument was that we grew up in a world wherein we get everything instantly and people can become rich and famous just by starring in reality shows. Everyone is in a hurry to get rich and be more successful. An uncomfortable truth right there.

  1. It's entertaining.
  2. It gives a glimpse into the lives of people who have lots of money and those who want even more.
  3. You start to wonder if you're anything like these people.
  1. It's not the deepest book out there.
  2. The characters can be annoying.
"Everyone always says that, but it isn't true. These days you have to make it right away. Or you get left behind."
  1. You like chick lit.
  2. You've always wondered how the rich and famous live.
  3. You're young and are feeling the rush to get ahead in life.



Note: This post contains Amazon and Book Depository affiliate links.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...