Search: Title Author Article. Rate this book. The new novel that fans of the bestselling author Sex In The City etc have been waiting for, about three sexy, powerful career women who will do anything to stay at the top of their fields. Click to the right or left of the sample to turn the page. If no book jacket appears in a few seconds, then we don't have an excerpt of this book or your browser is unable to display it. If this is having it all, who wants it?
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If you ran a computer search to find the most frequently used word in Candace Bushnell's new novel, it would almost certainly be 'successful', closely followed by 'power', 'money', 'rich', 'women' and 'men'. Unlike the Sex and the City girls who made their creator rich, Bushnell's newest New York heroines have matured, rethought their values and decided that these boil down to career success, measured in multiple zeros.
They are not desperately seeking The One, nor do they spend much time discussing their sex lives. They do, however, consume an impressive number of lunches while lamenting the misogyny of the boardroom. Fashion designer Victory Ford, magazine editor Nico O'Neilly and movie executive Wendy Healy are best friends in their early forties, each, through talent and hard work, nearing the top of her field.
Their lives are what early feminists' dreams were made of: seven-figure salaries and homes in Manhattan townhouses and lofts; they are connected to everyone who matters in New York and are considered glamorous and sexy.
Yet in the course of the novel, each undergoes a moment of existential despair, chased by unanswered questions that amount to the same thing: is this it? This is a much bleaker book than Bushnell's previous glittery bestsellers - 'bleak' being a relative term when applied to women in very expensive shoes being driven from airport to yacht party to charity gala while fretting about the morality of shagging an underwear model - but there's a barely-submerged anger that seems to stem from the author's realisation of the great injustice of biology.
The characters' self-questioning is an anguished interrogation of the promises of feminism: you told us that one day we'd have all the things men take for granted, the novel seems to be saying.
Now we've got here and found that it isn't true, and we're very upset! And when her daughter got to be her age, would women have advanced? When are women going to understand that you can't change the way men think?
Nor is it fair that an ambitious woman will be judged a bad mother when the same standards are not applied to men - but too often the sheer selfishness and greed of these women devalues their views.
Yet behind the drive to make obscene amounts of money is a fear of ageing: they are nearing the time when women become invisible unless they have something beyond their looks. At one point, Nico visualises Manhattan as a souvenir paperweight, enclosed in its own glass bubble and, for these characters, it is so; for all the charity openings they attend, there is no awareness of a world beyond their own scrabbling to remain 'someone' in the goldfish bowl of Michael's restaurant.
Contemporary celebrities are name-checked throughout, but only one throwaway reference gives a clue that these characters have ever read any part of a newspaper other than the gossip columns: 'Someone once said that the New York Post knows more than the CIA,' Mike remarked. Lipstick Jungle is still a page-turner, and Bushnell's ear for dialogue and eye for detail remain as sharp as ever, but these darker questions about meaning and fulfilment seem to have edged out her viper wit and there are fewer laughs, fewer enjoyably silly minor characters.
The most obvious omission, though, is the hope of romance, which gave momentum to the earlier novels Sex and the City's Carrie and Mr Big was only another version of Pride and Prejudice. While all three women do end the book nominally attached, this is relatively unimportant; the male characters are barely developed, and the message is clear that these women have found temporary happiness in professional self-realisation, not in relationships.
While this may be an empowering if arid manifesto for women, all this realism is a lot less fun to read. But perhaps that's the price you pay for growing up. Topics Books The Observer. Fiction reviews. Reuse this content.
It's equally hard not to feel that there is more than just New York that's familiar here: hello snobbish fashion world, hello useless men, hello group of glamorous, ambitious career girls. But fans expecting The Continuing Adventures of Carrie Bradshaw are in for a surprise: the girly giggles about sex, shoes and caipirinha-related injuries are gone. At times you long for the old days when whole glorious scenes were hung on a single exquisite bon mot about, say, anal chafage, or prosthetic nipples. Not any more: these women are out to win, and win big. Nico is a ruthless publishing executive in a loveless marriage.
In every Candace Bushnell novel is a woman who acts as a warning. She is old, cynical and Botoxed to within an inch of her life. Our heroines look at her and say: "Shoot me if I ever get like that. Lipstick Jungle is different. They are not just like us but with better shoes. They work hard, but hardly play at all, and the only size that matters is that of their second home in the Hamptons.
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For once, men—how to get them, how to keep them—aren't Bushnell's central focus, and her three main characters, all women in their early 40s, are surely her richest to date. Two of the three are married with children; all are at the top of their field. Wendy, a movie executive at the Miramax-like Parador, struggles to finish a potentially Oscar-winning flick while placating her unemployed hubby at home. And while fashion designer Victory Ford may date a Mr.
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