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Four Blondes Hardcover – September 30, 2000

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The Amazon Book Review
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Editorial Reviews Review

Candace Bushnell made her reputation as the creator of the HBO special Sex and the City, based on her book of the same name (based in turn on her eros-intensive New York Observer column). In Four Blondes, she returns with a quartet of novellas on her favorite subject--the mating habits of wealthy sex-, status-, and media-obsessed New Yorkers. These are people for whom a million or two does not make one rich, and who consider Louis Vuitton and Prada bare necessities. Janey Wilcox, for example, is a former model who each summer chooses a house in the Hamptons--or, rather, picks up a wealthy man with a pricey rental. With one movie in her past, her "lukewarm celebrity was established and she figured out pretty quickly that it could get her things and keep on getting them, as long as she maintained her standards." Yet even Janey eventually realizes that what she's getting isn't exactly what she wants. Cecelia, on the other hand, has gotten the ultimate prize: a royal husband. Still, she finds herself descending into paranoia as the Manhattan media circus reports her every flaw. Then there's Winnie Diekes, a high-powered magazine columnist whose marriage flounders as she pushes her unambitious husband to write the book that will make him--and her--famous.

Finally, in the most clearly autobiographical story, a writer gives up on the commitment-impaired men of New York and goes to London to find a husband. There she trolls for the typical Englishman--"a guy who had sex with his socks on, possessed a microscopic willy, and came in two minutes." Bushnell is famous for this sort of sexual brashness, and the book is full of her sharp wit, both in and out of the boudoir. She also clearly enjoys her characters and their misadventures, with one exception: the politically correct Winnie, with her distaste for alcohol, night life, and casual sex, inspires an odd sort of authorial contempt. Otherwise, though, Bushnell's ironic takes on the sexual foibles of the rich and famous are mordant, mischievous fun. --Lesley Reed

From Publishers Weekly

The author whose name is synonymous with her novel Sex and the City weighs in again with four loosely linked tales that form a sexually charged and withering analysis of how New York'sAand London'sAwomen work feverishly at their relationships, meanwhile trying desperately to make their names. In the first chapter, the bluntly scheming, semisuccessful model Janey Wilcox is in her 10th year of charming powerful, rich men into installing her in their Hamptons homes for the summer. The mutual benefits are obvious: the moguls get a gorgeous sex kitten to display and bed, while she summers in high style. When this arrangement leads to a few humiliating encounters, however, Janey tries her hand at screenwriting and attempts real estate school, but eventually she finds her fortune in a more realistic endeavor: a lucrative lingerie modeling contract. The next story features Winnie, a successful columnist married to a mediocre literary journalist. The victims of relentless ambition and disappointment, they lash one another with insults, each finding their only solace in one-night stands. The third tale is the paranoid confession of Cecelia, who wants to be "normal" and pops pills to mitigate her fear of being nothing without a man. The last blonde is an unnamed 40-year-old journalist who, disillusioned with Manhattan males, travels to London on a magazine assignment to compare English and American men's attitudes about sex. The Brit banter revolves entirely around sexual technique and penis size, but manages to be entertaining. Mostly, the novel is New York-centric, focused on the obsessions of desperate people and replete with glittering details to satisfy the most exacting fashionista. Though superficial, these characters' envy and spite rises from their fear of mortality, of dying without having left their mark. Mercilessly satirical, Bushnell's scathing insights and razor wit are laced with an understanding of this universal human fear, and they inspire fear and pity in the reader. Agent, Heather Schroder, ICM. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; 1st edition (September 30, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871138190
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871138194
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (393 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,128,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Candace Bushnell is the critically acclaimed, international best-selling novelist whose first book, Sex and the City, published in 1996, was the basis for the HBO hit series. Bushnell captured the country's attention with Sex and the City by breaking down the bedroom doors of New York City's rich and beautiful to expose true contemporary stories of sex, love and relationships. The book introduced the nation to "modelizers," "toxic bachelors" and the women who are looking for Mr. Big as they glide in and out of a star-studded social scene. With Four Blondes (2000), Bushnell gave readers another uncensored look into the mating rituals of the Manhattan elite. In each of this book's four linked novellas, Bushnell uses wry humor and frank portrayals of love and lust to deliver clever, hilarious and socially relevant portraits of women in New York City. Four Blondes was a critical and commercial hit. And the successes of Sex and the City and Four Blondes created high demand for a new genre of fiction; the chick-lit phenomenon had begun. Bushnell's third novel, Trading Up (2003) is a wickedly funny social satire about a lingerie model whose reach exceeds her grasp and whose new-found celebrity has gone to her head. The book takes place in the months leading up to 9/11, and portrays an era of wearily decadent society in New York. A sharply observant, keenly funny comedy of manners Trading Up is Bushnell at her most sassy and entertaining; this novel caused the The New York Times to call Bushnell "the philosopher queen of a social scene." A movie of Trading Up is currently in production at Lifetime Television. In Lipstick Jungle (2005), her fourth novel, Bushnell explores assumptions about gender roles in family and career. The book follows three high-powered friends as they weather the ups and downs of lives lived at the top of their game. Salon called Bushnell's work "ahead of the curve" Once again, with Lipstick Jungle, Bushnell captured the paradigm of a new breed of career woman facing modern challenges and choices. Lipstick Jungle became the basis for the popular drama on NBC, currently in its second season, and starring Brooke Shields, Kim Raver, Lindsay Price and Andrew McCarthy. Bushnell serves as an executive producer on the show. Bushnell's new novel, One Fifth Avenue, is a modern-day story of old and new money, the always combustible mix that Edith Wharton mastered in her novels about New York's Gilded Age and that F. Scott Fitzgerald illuminated in his Jazz Age tales. Bushnell's New Yorkers suffer the same passions as those fictional Manhattanites from eras past: thirst for power, for social prominence, and for marriages that are successful-at least to the public eye. "Here are bloggers and bullies, misfits and misanthropes, dear hearts and black hearts, dogfights and catty squalls spun into a darkly humorous chick-lit saga," says Publisher's Weekly. Through her books and television series, Bushnell's work has influenced and defined two generations of women. She is the winner of the 2006 Matrix Award for books (other winners include Joan Didion and Amy Tan), and a recipient of the Albert Einstein Spirit of Achievement Award. Bushnell grew up in Connecticut and attended Rice University and New York University. She currently resides in Manhattan.

Customer Reviews

To think women like this actually exist makes you want to just kill youself now.
There was no plot development, no character development, and no story line that I could find.
Kelly S.
All of the characters are shallow and snobby sex fiends, and many of them are drug users.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

101 of 116 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn M. Mason on December 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I'm married, do not live anywhere near NYC, watch Sex in the City and was looking for a little tantalizing glimpse into the fabulous single life of Four Blondes.
I ran a hot bath, chilled a bottle of wine and settled among the froth and bubbles with Candace Bushnell's nexest book. First mistake. Did not read the Amazon customer reviews. Second: Paid full price for the book. Third: Fell asleep and dropped the $21.00 book in the bath water and had to blow dry the pages to read the last chapter. A waste of trees, bubbles and hot air. The bleak, non-sexy, self-absorbed world Bushnell attempts to glamourize reveals that not only do blondes not have fun, their roots are showing under the bleach. She must know her novel is not amusing, not light and certainly not Sex in the City where at least the chicks have a laugh with their Cosmopolitans. No laughing here. Hard to believe that I was preparing to feel sorry for myself when I started the book and ended up feeling pretty darn lucky to not be beautiful, young, single and blond in NYC. On the other hand, maybe now the general public will understand the difference between Blonde(noun) and blond(adj.) So, hey, there is some redeeming social value.
If you want to read about fun steamy sex, dust off an old copy of Valley of the Dolls. Now there is a bathtub read.
Candace Bushnell's Four Blondes may do for marital happiness what Fatal Attraction did for fidelity.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Reading Candace Bushnell's new tome, I was transported back to the 1980's and reminded of writers like Jay McInerny, Bret Easton Ellis and Tama Janowitz. Her new collection of stories, "4 Blondes", is supposedly set in a contemporary setting, but the actions of the majority of her characters (drug consumption, blase sexual attitudes, fascination with celebrity, etc.) feels strangely dated.
This said, Ms. Bushnell has a wonderful gift for characterization, and her characters have a wonderful way of not conforming to the reader's expectations of them. My favorite piece in the book is "Platinum", the story of a social climber turned princess turned disillusioned, pill-popping mess. "Oh my dear, what has happened to you. You're turning into a little Courtney Love" says her gay friend D.W. Her hilarious misadventures are gleefully recounted by Ms. Bushnell in stacatto prose.
In "Highlights (For Adults)", she tells of a jealous New York journalist who logs on to to peruse reviews of her competitors work. If the sales ranking of one of their new books is low, she feels good.
If you are a fan of HBO's "Sex and the City" (which was based on Ms. Bushnell's earlier work), you are sure to enjoy the snappy one liners and outrageous situations of "4 Blondes". If you're looking for serious, biting, New York wit, re-read Fran Lebowitz.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Katie on July 19, 2004
Format: Paperback
I have just five words of advice for all you Amazon shoppers: do not buy this book. I mean it. Even if you don't believe me when I tell you how bad it is, and you insist on reading it, don't buy it. Borrow it from a friend or take it out from the library (if you absolutely must). This drivel doesn't even deserve your time let alone your money or shelf space. Judging from this book alone, Candace Bushnell is a horrible author. I've yet to read 'Sex and the City', but I love the show. If that novel is anything like this trash, I'll have no choice other than to stay away. Not only is every character blonde, Bushnell must have run out of ideas because every character is either a model, an actor, a writer, or a business person. Oh, and they're all addicted to cocaine, like it's normal to be carrying around a vial of coke. It's sick, really.

As you may or may not be aware, 'Four Blondes' is not a novel about (as the title suggests) four blonde friends (much like 'Sex and the City'). Rather, it's four short stories about four different blondes. The first two stories are complete wastes of time. In fact, if I were you, I wouldn't even bother with those two. Even if you've already taken the time to take the book out from the library. Of course, if you've taken the time to visit the library and pick this trash up, you've obviously decided against heeding my advice anyway, in which case, you may as well go ahead and continue to ignore me. The second two stories arn't much better than the first, but I found them to be the lesser of two (or in this case, four) evils.

The first story is about an ex-model named Janey Wilcox. She's a manipulative sleaze who cares about no one except herself.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Celia Bonaduce on September 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
4 Blondes, the latest book by Candace Bushnell has a lot in common with her mega-hit Sex and the City. Bushnell covers more of the same ground, following shallow New York women-with-attitude who think about nothing but sex, money and designer clothes. Should be fun - but these 4 blondes are almost frightening in their self-absorption. While Sex and the City was a collection of stories gleaned from Bushnell's New York Observer column, it's hard to think of it as just a book - the actresses on the HBO series have breathed such life into the characters it's hard to separate the two. When reading 4 Blondes, you try to take the good will of the TV program with you, but these new women are so frivolous they should be arrested for taking up air.
Blonde's worst offender is Janey Wilcox, heroine (and we use the tern loosely) of the first story. Janey is a former model who spends each spring looking for a man with whom to spend the summer in the Hamptons. The man doesn't matter - it's all about the house. While the story could be said to explore the age-old argument of prostitution (in the broadest sense) - is she using him or is he using her - the story isn't about prostitution. It's supposed to be about a modern, quasi-competent woman who has chosen this life. The fact that a modeling fluke solves all her problems is pretty convenient - and doesn't solve the reader's problems in the slightest.
The other blondes don't intrigue us either.
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