Tiny Pants's Reviews > One Fifth Avenue

One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell
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's review
Jun 04, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: fiction
Read in May, 2011

I was going to say I read this because at this point, I guess I'm a Candace Bushnell completist, but then I realized I'm not -- I haven't read The Carrie Diaries, let alone the sequel. I just have a whole thing (discussed at length in my review of the Private book where suddenly they're witches) about watching characters you've grown to love get dragged through the mud by being extended in stupid ways. Then again, I'm not sure what The Carrie Diaries could do to the SATC gals that would be worse than the second movie, so there you go.

(On a related note, but not related to this book, I just bought Sweet Valley Confidential. I didn't want to read it for the same reason, but then realized -- come on. These people have a new junior year Christmas/spring break every dozen books, and have jumped the shark zillions of times, from Kidnapped by the Cult to when they're meeting vampires in London. Plus the Double Love endpaper is just swoonworthy.)

Anyway! This book. This one was a rough start for me. I think I've learned something. I don't know if it's the age I'm at, the genteel poverty of graduate student life, or having not lived in New York for so long (and regardless, having hated it then and pretty much hating it now), but I despised the beginning of this book. Candy, you're no Tom Wolfe, okay? And you're certainly no Edith Wharton, no matter what lowbrow reviewers say.

But more to my point, the whole idea of a "real estate novel", particularly at the time this book was published, just grates. There area few moments when people have these brief -- I mean brief -- reflections on their relative privilege, but mainly they just whine about how their current apartment isn't good enough, and how to get a better one, and then they go shopping and buy multi-thousand-dollar designer crap. Sorry, but I have no sympathy for anyone whose parents rent them a $6,000 a month one bedroom, let alone all the drama over this $20 million apartment that's more or less the center of the action in act one (Oh yeah, and she does actually label the different chunks of the book like that). And both at this time in my life, and at this time in our country's history, it's just galling.

Luckily, however, it does move on from this. And while the dialogue remains clunky and unrealistic, the plot actually picks up quite a bit. Considering that at the beginning, I could barely read 10 pages at a time, I was shocked that acts 4 and 5 had me staying up way past my normal bedtime to finish it. Now I did devour her other books when I was younger, but I'm not sure -- is it that I was younger? That it was the go-go '00s? Or is it something else -- maybe this book's sudden foray into male narrators, or endless, awkward sex scenes, that weaken it by comparison?

I'm not sure. And I hope I don't read The Carrie Diaries to try to figure it out, but I probably will.

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