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Editorial Reviews Review

In a way, Candace Bushnell's Lipstick Jungle picks up where her career-defining book Sex and the City left off, in the money-soaked, power-hungry, beauty-obsessed jungle that is New York City. This time around, the ladies are a bit older, a lot richer, but not particularly wiser nor more endearing than Bushnell's earlier heroines.

Lipstick Jungle weaves the stories of Nico O'Neilly, Wendy Healy, and Victory Ford, numbers 8, 12, and 17 on The New York Post's list of "New York's 50 Most Powerful Women." But this is 21st Century New York, and to get ahead and stay ahead, these women will do anything, including jeopardizing their personal and professional relationships. Take for example Nico, editor-in-chief of Bonfire magazine, who betrays her boss to rise to the top of the entire magazine division at media mega-giant Splatch-Verner. As president of Paradour Pictures, Wendy may be poised to win an Oscar for her 10-year labor-of-love, Ragged Pilgrims, but her marriage is in shambles and her children care more about a $50,000 pony than their mother. And for single, 43-year-old fashion designer Victory, pleasing tough critics may be more important than ever finding the real relationship she's convinced herself she doesn't need.

This racy tale of women behaving badly manages to shrewdly flip the tables to show us how gender roles are essentially interchangeable, given the right circumstances. Whether that was Bushnell's intent when crafting this wicked tale is another story. --Gisele Toueg

10 Second Interview: A Few Words with Candace Bushnell

Q: Were Victory, Wendy, and Nico inspired by any real-life women?
A: The characters and situations in Lipstick Jungle were inspired by the real-life women I know and admire in New York City. As with Sex and the City, I spent a lot of time thinking about where women were today, and what I noticed was that there was a fascinating group of women in their forties who were leading non-traditional lives. They were highly successful and motivated, they often had children, and usually were the providers for their families, and yet, they didn't fit the old stereotype of the witchy businesswoman. Indeed, so many of these women were the girls next door, the girls who reminded me of my best friends when I was a kid and we used to fantasize about the great things we were going to do in life. Like the women in Sex and the City, the Lipstick Jungle women are charting new lives for themselves, redefining what it means to be a woman when you really are as powerful, or more powerful, than a man.

Of course, you probably want specifics, so I will say that there was a moment when it all clicked. Tina Brown used to write a terrific column in the Washington Post, and one of the things she was always mentioning was how there was a group of powerful women who were meeting and lunching at Michael's restaurant. They'd been working for over twenty years, their children were now in their early teens and didn't need them every minute, and now, in their forties or early fifties, they had time to strive for new career goals and to spend more time with their girlfriends. I thought, "Aha--that's the Lipstick Jungle."

Q: What kind of research did you do to cover fashion, film, and publishing in one book?
A: To research fashion, film and publishing, I did what I always do--I talked to my girlfriends! Of course, it helps that I've worked in magazine publishing and have had my share of experience with Hollywood. I'm also lucky enough to have a couple of girlfriends who are top designers, who offered to help me out with the specific details. I still remember the afternoon when one of my girlfriends and I sat down to talk--she was over eight months pregnant, and I was worried that we were going to have to run to the hospital!'s Significant Seven
Candace Bushnell graciously agreed to answer the questions we like to ask every author: the Significant Seven.

Q: What book has had the most significant impact on your life?
A: So many books have affected my life it's hard to pick just one. When I was a teenager, I was obsessed with Kurt Vonnegut, and Evelyn Waugh; when I was in my early thirties, a girlfriend and I re-read House of Mirth, and freaked out--we didn't want to end up like Lily Bart. Most recently I read Angela's Ashes for the first time and was absolutely stunned.

Q: You are stranded on a desert island with only one book, one CD, and one DVD--what are they?
A: Make Way for Lucia, by E.F. Benson, a book that I always hope will never end; Van Morrison's greatest hits; and Pride and Prejudice, the six-part mini-series..

Q: What is the worst lie you've ever told?
A: "My e-mail isn't working." I'm not a good liar. It's one of my flaws. I'm too forthright and usually have to apologize the next day for telling the truth the night before.

Q: Describe the perfect writing environment.
A: All I need is a desk, a chair and my computer. Once I start writing, I don't notice my environment. In fact, I've had people try to talk to me when I'm writing and I literally can't hear them. I see their mouths moving but no sound comes out.

Q: If you could write your own epitaph, what would it say?
A: "I don't ever want to be asked about my own epitaph!"

Q: Who is the one person living or dead that you would like to have dinner with?
A: Tolstoy. I've read that he loved gossip. It would be great to have a good old gossip with him.

Q: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
A: Flying, of course. Who wouldn't want to be unfettered by gravity?

From Publishers Weekly

Though Bushnell's fourth book opens in familiar Sex and the City territory—a fashion show in Bryant Park where attendees sport Jimmy Choo and Baume & Mercier—the novel quickly takes off for deeper waters. 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. Nico, editor-in-chief at Bonfire magazine, juggles the Machiavellian politics of her corporate parent-company with the needs of her naïf boy-toy lover and her savvy Columbia professor husband. And while fashion designer Victory Ford may date a Mr. Big-like character, she takes the relationship lightly. Most of her energies are directed to saving her business, which has fallen on hard times since she launched a new, more innovative line. Bushnell herself won't face the same problem. There's plenty of the old razzle-dazzle to satisfy her fans. Her characters lunch at Michael's, go on dates to the Whitney Biennial and shop for ponies at the Palm Beach Polo Club. There's a make-out session in a bar bathroom, panty ripping on a kitchen countertop and many frank descriptions of urban sexual mores. But Bushnell's emphasis on female friendship and career ambition may also win her a legion of new readers. Her characters want "the sweet, creamy sensation of power," and it's Bushnell's account of how they got it, and how they keep it, that will really keep readers turning pages. Expect a splashy debut, followed by a long run of sales.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion (January 1, 1900)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 122300452X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1223004525
  • ASIN: B000EGF0QE
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #735,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Lena on September 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
My favorite thing about this book it that I, and also each of my friends, have picked out a favorite character. Wendy, Nico, and Victory are all such vibrant, interesting, and very different women. My favorite is Victory. She is independent and owns her own company, something I want for myself one day. She's fiercely creative, and she always speaks her mind, even when it gets her in trouble. She's such a quirky and unique personality that I feel so personally close to. I can understand her, especially when she realizes that she pushes men away because she is afraid of getting too close to them. When she realized this I felt like I was realizing it for the first time too. This is one of those rare books that can make you think about your own life in a new way.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Bookworm on September 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book! I felt that Candace wasn't afraid to tackle some major issues, mainly the idea of happiness. Happiness is such a critical puzzle, and its ingredients shift (and deepen in complexity) with age. I also loved that Candace showed how wisdom and opportunity have truly, finally, turned the tables on so many of the old feminist struggles, and old sexual clichés, without solving them per se.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mojo Saves on September 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is easily Bushnell's best novel yet. She manages to paint a fascinating picture of powerful women and does so without making them all witches. The 3 heroines are complex and, despite their successes, are not without their own problems that humanize them and make them accessible and likeable. Buy this book!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By a fan on September 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderfully engrossing story of three high-powered career women in New York City. Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. It's filled with all the delicious little details and insights into the social scene that make you feel like an insider even if you aren't. With all that's going on in the country right now, I was greatful to escape into this novel. Very highly recommended!!!
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Format: Hardcover
Candace Bushnell's sexy female friends are still having sex in the city, just not as often since they are prowling the lipstick jungle of New York's most competitive and high profile industries --- fashion, publishing, filmmaking --- to secure the corner offices, multi-million dollar salaries and billboard recognition. The three friends --- Nico, Victory and Wendy --- are linked by their ambitions and their belief in one another.

The days of see-and-be-seen lunches at "café society" hot spots like "Michael's" or three martini meetings at "21" in Manhattan have become the domain of forty-something women who have moved out of the bedroom and into the boardroom. Bushnell's message to her mass audience of women in "Sex and the City" was to embrace and enjoy sexuality with confidence. LIPSTICK JUNGLE heralds career aspirations, hard work, success, and power as the secrets to attracting the opposite sex. "It's a jungle out there," a jungle of women with naked ambition and sheer attitude.

Although LIPSTICK JUNGLE is more about longer relationships with men than one-night stands and role reversal is predominant, there is a "giddy with excitement" and a "die from anticipation" sexual tension that is tempting to those who loved Samantha's ("Sex and the City") older woman-younger man relationship.

"Every woman knows that you have to combine at least two men to make one decent one" --- maybe not. I will never forget an article in the August 2004 issue of Town and Country written by David Brown, husband of Helen Gurley Brown, icon of the feminist movement and author of the groundbreaking international bestseller, SEX AND THE SINGLE GIRL and founding editor of Cosmopolitan. Mr. Brown lovingly stated, "I'm never jealous of my celebrity wife.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Allison Hobbs, Author of Insatiable & Pandora's Box on September 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In Candace Bushnell's new novel we meet three forty-something career women all holding powerful positions in the fast-paced, dog-eat-dog city of New York. This glamorous middle-aged trio do not waste time during their power lunches obsessing about men. In the case of these women, it's career first--men and family second.

Wendy is a movie executive. Determined to win an oscar for her current project, she didn't notice that spoiled stay-at-home hubby is getting antsy. Victory's spring fashion disaster has her so busy putting out fires, billionaire boyfriend is viewed as nothing more than a side order on her full plate. Then there's Nico, editor-in-chief of a thriving magazine who is cheating on her university professor husband (just for the sex)with a boy toy male model.

Although these women appear to lead glamorous and enviable lives, the reader quickly learns that these high-power women are just like the rest of us and at some point (for most women) despite success, the question: What's really important?" always comes up. Another great read by Bushnell.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Curren Katz on September 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
After being inundated with chick-lit books in which the heroine is

really a teenager in a 30-year old body, and where the only resolution

is to find a guy, it's refreshing to read about grown-up women who have

other things on their minds besides men. This is not your typical

chick-lit book. I loved the way Lipstick Jungle had women in situations

that we usually only think about men being in, and then watching how

the female characters dealt with these new challenges. I was also was

struck by how very real and modern these women's lives are. There were

so many things in the book that have happened to me or my

friends' especially Nico and Wendy's situations at work, where the men

were trying to take credit for their achievements. And in their

personal relationships, I loved the way Bushnell turned the tables on

men and had them in secondary positions.
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