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Four Blondes Hardcover – September 30, 2000
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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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Bushnell's satirical take on the lives of the pampered and wealthy of NYC hits it right on the nose and then socks them each in the jaw. If you are a native NY'er (the last of a dying breed) who reads "Page Six" or waits to see who will be waiting outside on a red carpet anywhere in the city, you know who some of these people are meant to represent, if not then you may be shocked at how whiny and spoiled these 4 Blondes really are (I mean if you married a prince and all he wanted was kids...come that's too easy, right?). Either way, it's a pretty fair representation.
The sad part is that people who hate this book are the ones who think rich people live happy little lives just like in the pictures. I really enjoyed peeking behind the curtain and getting a glimpse that no money or fame can substitute for good old fashioned common sense and mutual respect for each other.
Everyone can relate to this book since we all have known married or single friends who show one persona and then when the ball drops they are all of a sudden divorced, or depressed or even hitting bottom only to leave us wondering "how the heck did that happen?".
Bushnell keeps up her frantic, fragmented pace in Four Blondes that she mastered with SITC, but takes a closer, edgier look at four women in particular. While I thought these four women would interact throughout the book, they really don't. It is actually four separate stories of New York women, and I think that let me down just a tad.
First we have Janey, a model, who realizes her only ambition has been getting a man (any man) to pay for her summer in the Hamptons. Of all four stories, I liked Janey's the best. Though she is a ambitionless leech, I found myself actually liking her.
Next is Winnie Dieke, married to James, no children. Winnie is a journalist, as is James, and after seven years of marriage is wondering if James is the best she will ever do. They don't care much for each other, but can't seem to let go of their relationship for mostly selfish reasons.
Third is the story of Princess Cecelia, a beautiful girl who marries a real Prince. This was my least favorite segment, and the reason my rating dropped from 4 stars to 3. I simply could not relate to Cecilia at all, she had no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and I felt it was a little beneath Bushnell to not have come up with at least one, since she is so very good at making likeable personalities out of despicable people.
Fourth and last, is the story of a writer to travels to England to write about how the English have bedroom relationships. The first person narrator of this story is never named, except for what seems to be a nickname of "Minky". Minky was definitely a fun personality, and someone I could see myself liking to be around.
All in all, Four Blondes is a good book, but definitely better if you accustom yourself to Bushnell's style first with SITC. Enjoy!!
Most recent customer reviews
Candace Bushnell, an international best-selling author,...Read more
I had just read One Fifth Avenue and that was a fairly absorbing story. This book however is awful. Am half way through and completely done with it.Read more
If you had nothing else to read, then go ahead....