Customer Reviews: Sex and the City
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on May 5, 2007
As someone who recently discovered (and became addicted to) HBO's delightful series "Sex and the City," it was inevitable that I'd wind up investigating Candace Bushnell's book. Bushnell's book is the collected form of the column she wrote for years before TV writer Darren Star turned it into a hit television series. Ironically, though Bushnell's book probably wouldn't get anywhere near as much attention if it weren't for the TV series, it's because of the TV series that it appears so many readers have had a foul reaction to the book. It's true that those expecting the TV show on paper are bound to be disappointed, probably in a big way, because Bushnell's "Sex and the City" doesn't have a lot in common with the show.

For the most part, the book does revolve around Carrie Bradshaw (a thinly-disguised alter-ego for Bushnell, with even the same initials), a thirty-something columnist in New York. Miranda Hobbes does show up a few times during the first half of the book, though she's not a lawyer. Samantha Jones is not a PR agent nor such a nymphomaniac as she was in the show. And Charlotte is a British woman, whose TV counterpart appeared at the beginning of the series' pilot episode. Stanford Blatch, Carrie's successful homosexual friend, is the only character who remains virtually the same, though here he's a screenwriter. Many of the same situations presented throughout the show pop up in the book, such as Stanford's obsession with his model "protege," the torment of the baby shower, and "modelizers." And those who loved Chris Noth's Mr. Big needn't worry. Big is a major character in the book and is just as adorable (and even less rambunctious) as he was in the show, though the outcome of he and Carrie's relationship is different in the book than in the show.

Bushnell's columns were meant more as musings on the life of single women in New York, and often single men as well, than as a linear narrative. Thus it's surprising that her writings work so well as a book. She has a very cute, quirky, innocent style of writing, and that's a big part of what makes her book such a blast. However Bushnell offers little insight into what any of the characters are actually feeling, and rightly so: it just accents their appalling and, frankly, upsetting superficiality. The dating scene in Manhattan is a hellish world where all that matters is sex, money, fashion, and drugs. Bushnell is obviously deeply involved in this world, and it's her knowledge of it, along with her characters' candid musings, that kept me reading.

In the end, those expecting the HBO series in a book are going to be very disappointed. Those expecting something resembling the HBO series will probably be let down as well. The book and the series are designed for two different worlds - while the show tended to have a sweet optimism to it, Bushnell writes with the same sort of dreamy, hopeful cynicism that one would find in a Bret Easton Ellis book. However, those who would rather read the book than incessently compare it with the show may enjoy it. I recommend Candace Bushnell's "Sex and the City" to those who are younger and looking for a fun, unusual, honest read.
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on August 16, 2000
If you are a huge fan of the HBO series, (and if not, why not?), keep in mind that this book does not follow the lives of the four heroines as the show does. Carrie and Mr. Big are largely featured, as are the other ladies to a much lesser extent, but this book does not follow your typical story-telling format. Hardly surprising as it is a collection of articles.
Overall, I found the writing excellent and witty, but the format rather disjointing. It's a fun read with colorful characters. There is no depth to them, but shallow seems to be the key theme in Bushnell's examination of the Manhatten single scene. If you are looking for love in the Big Apple, you may find this book either a) full of helpful hints or b) so depressing you want to run home to Connecticut. I enjoyed it, but it's easy to put down and forget about.
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on February 15, 2003
Being a huge fan of the TV series (like most people reading this, I'd imagine), and looking for something somewhat fluffy to read, I ordered this book and quickly finished it.
The thing that struck me most was how *empty* the book felt. Whereas the characters on the TV series have some very close friends, the book doesn't really have that dimension. Sure, people go out with their fabulous acquaintances, but there never really seems to be a true connection among them. Lonliness is nearly a constant with the characters in this book. It left me feeling pretty sad, as well. Yes, it was comical, but it also had a fairly serious side.
For fans of the series, this book is *not* told solely through the eyes of Carrie. The narrator is someone else, a "friend" of Carrie's and the other characters, who does indeed write a newspaper column. Most of the characters in the TV series are in the book by name only -- for example, Charlotte makes an appearance as a journalist with a completely different personality thank Charlotte in the series. And whereas I think most people genuinely like at least one person from the series, I think I finished this book disliking every single character. What did surprise me is that the first episode of the series is nearly verbatim from the book.
What I liked about this book were the vivid scenes and the ability to create a feeling. I think Bushnell did a great job and making her audience feel what the characters feel. While it's not the series, it's certainly worth a read.
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on February 10, 2000
I've been watching the TV series for two years and just finished reading the book. I can't believe I waited so long to buy the book--it's terrific. Sure, it's different from the TV series, but anyone who is at least of normal intelligence will get the fact that the book is the real thing, while the tv series, although funny and witty, is the sugar-coated, hollywood-ized version. The book is much more complex and layered than the show, and, like real life, doesn't necessarily have happy endings (or even endings--are there really endings in life besides death?). The show is formulaic, while the book is not. It doesn't pander to the audience. Of course, this means that there are people who won't like the book or won't get it--probably because the truths it reveals make them uncomfortable about things they see in themselves (and don't want to admit to). It presents dating and relationships in a shockingly realistic way, which, I warn you, will probably frighten those people who insist on believing that life is a Harlequin romance or that Prince Charming is still going to ride up on a white horse. Some people complain that the characters are shallow, but the truth is, the characters are real, and, yes folks, we're all a bit shallow and superficial. If we weren't, we wouldn't be human. And that's the beauty of this book--it makes you laugh out loud at our all too human foibles.
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HALL OF FAMEon March 28, 2000
'Sex and the City' is fun to read and entertaining. The characters' lives are so outrageous that your life seems dull and predictable in comparison. I love the topics: the toxic bachelors; the guys who date models; threesomes; and the four city girls, including "Carrie", visiting married women in Conneticut and enjoying themselves, to their surprise.
The book is mainly focused on Carrie and her boyfriend, "Mr. Big." I love the HBO series based on this book, but the book tells us a different story of love and dating in New York. The book is as fun and as outrageous as the HBO series. A fun read!
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VINE VOICEon June 6, 2006
I've read so many negative reviews of Candace Bushnell's book "Sex and the City," and I think most of those bad reviews are unjustified. Remember, this is not a book that was based on the HBO TV series...the show "Sex and the City" was based on Bushnell's book. There is a lot of material from the book that was eventually adapted for the television show, especially for the first and second seasons. However, apart from all the graphic sex talk and a few familiar character names, the book "Sex and the City" is very different from the show. Carrie Bradshaw is not the narrator of the book: instead, all the stories are told by an unnamed character who is a friend of Carrie's and also happens to be a journalist. The book is divided into short stories/tidbits that are generally just a few pages in length and are actually a collection of newspaper columns Bushnell wrote for her own sex column, a la Carrie Bradshaw.

Carrie, Samantha Jones, Stanford Blatch, and Mr. Big are all characters in Bushnell's book, but they aren't very similar to their HBO counterparts. There are also characters named Miranda and Charlotte, but they only appear on a couple of pages. The relationship between Carrie and Big is somewhat similar to the way it is portrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Noth, but not entirely. Samantha Jones loves to have sex like a man and Stanford is still gay, but the character similarities end there.

If you're a fan of the show, you have to look at this book as its own work of art in order to appreciate and enjoy it. Bushnell offers a graphic, unromantic look at the sex lives of New York City's most privileged residents. Characters do things like visit sex clubs, discuss and engage in threesomes, and complain about "Modelizers," "Bicycle Boys," and the rest of the unappealing single men that Manhattan has to offer.

I enjoyed this book. Bushnell has a very harsh, career-minded approach to the art of relationships...I think the book is much more bitter about love than the TV series is. (There is no romantic ending for Carrie and Big in Paris, let's put it that way.) Still, the style of the book is very similar to the HBO show with the same name. If you approach the book with an open mind, I think you'll enjoy it.
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on October 28, 2002
I have been an avid "Sex in the City" series fan. It is one of my favorite shows, and one reason why I pay extra money to have HBO on my satellite feed.
The TV show is so well written, with great characters and story lines which are very funny that it made me want to read the original book. What a terrible disapointment to me.
The book is very hard to follow. I don't know how these vignettes ever became newspaper columns, they don't even hold up as tiny short stories.
The characters are nothing like those on the show. No problem if the book's characters had any depth, or we were really able to follow the development of some(any)of the characters.
It is unfortunate for the reader that this does not happen.
The book is totally confusing, with no real continuity.
I would advise those of you who like the show to forget about reading the book. It will not help you one bit to gain more insight to the show's characters, nor is it a very amusing book. Those who like to read Candace Bushnell as an author, might find the book entertaining on a disjointed, superficial level. I think the majority of fans of the show will be disapointed.
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on June 29, 2000
Well, most of the people who will read this book will do so because of the great success of the HBO's series. But try not to expect too much. It was a good starting point for the TV show, but sometimes it is dissappointing in some details. In my opinion, the TV show is better. But hey, go ahead and read it! It is not bad at all. It surely shows some aspects of single-life here in New York, and the shallow characters are so easy to find in real life! I can say that, because I am currently living in Manhattan and I have seen similar weird situations depicted in this book. If you want some summer fun, pick up this book. I finished it in just 4 days...
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on September 6, 2006
I got this book yesterday. I sat down and read it in one go, as I'm a huge fan of the show and was sure I'd enjoy it.

Well, I didn't. The chapters jump all over the place. Yes, I know they are pieced together from columns, but even if you try to just read one little piece, it's not a complete anything. It's like she starts in the middle of an in-joke, hops from thing to thing, and ends abruptly, and starts over with something else. I couldn't keep up with what was going at all.

The characters are unlikeable. Watching the show, even though I didn't approve of Sam's bed hopping or Richard's smarminess, I appreciated them as interesting characters and wanted to see what happened to them. These characters are flimsy, throwaway. They want to seem like they are living THE life, but in fact their lives seem worthless and boring even. Drugs are very rampant in this book, and the sex is of the "Paris Hilton" type, where people do it just to cause a stir, and they only care about themselves, which is ironic because they don't even really enjoy it. On the show, yeah sometimes the girls had one night stands, but it was just somehow more meaningful and interesting.

The book does start to get better at the end, as Carrie and Mr. Big's relationship unravels, but it's too little, too late.

I didn't expect it to be exactly like the show. I started reading it with an open mind. But the simple fact is that it's rubbish. I am really amazed that someone read this and said "This is wonderful! Let's make a TV show about it!" I'm glad they did, and that better writers were put on the job, because the end product was one of my favorite shows. But, yeah, it's garbage.
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on August 3, 1998
I ordered this book from Amazon despite the vast number of readers who called it "soulless" and talked of the "shallow" people that it described. I found it to be nothing of the sort. From Carrie who is continuously confused about her commitment-phobic boyfriend Mr. Big, to the various other single 30-somethings who have yet to find a man worthy of settling down with, I identified with the women in this book. We are taught as girls now to strive to be successful, and yet to look for true love and not to settle for second best. But how many women can achieve this goal when there are so many men who refuse to commit, or are continuously chasing the 18-year-old model types? Bushnell's books shows that success often comes with loneliness, or at least the lack of a lifelong mate. Coupled with its fabulously written text, this book echoed my sentiments about relationships without crushing all of my hope.
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