Candace Bushnell is one of those authors that I always feel compelled to read, even if her books never quite satisfy. Scratch that, her books are usually terrible. However, I keep buying them, so here we go...
I picked up Bushnell's, One Fifth Avenue, on the Barnes and Noble bargain table several years ago and it has sat on my to-be-read shelf, until last week. I've been in a reading slump and needed a beach read to get me back on track.
Bushnell's rise to fame is due to the popularity of the television version of, Sex and the City. The television show was fantastic, unfortunately, the book version was not. I think she lucked out when someone saw potential in her characters and could make them better.
The problem central to all of Bushnell's books are that none of the characters are ever remotely likable or relatable. They all come across as callous, self involved and snobby. It's impossible to even like the characters that you know are supposed to like. All of her characters put up walls and she doesn't allow enough venerability to let the reader inside. It's a problem.
That being said, One Fifth Avenue was the most fun of all of her books. The book follows the lives and scandals of the residents of an exclusive building in Manhattan. It's often very salacious and reminded me a bit of a Jacqueline Suzanne novel. It didn't immediately grab me, but after the first quarter of the book, I was along for the ride.
Bushnell has a lot to say about our cultural obsession with money and the aspiration to obtain a certain status, even at the expense of personal wellness and relationships. All of the characters in the story are in their own struggle with deciding what value to place on social status and material wealthy. Every character to some degree obsesses over their image and stature. On that level, the book sets a tone of desperation, because nothing ever seems quite enough.
Bushnell isn't a great author and this isn't a great book. However, it was good enough for a beach read and for a bargain table price, I feel that it was money well spent.