Sex and the City grows up a little bit (and drops the Charlotte-type character that everyone pretended to hate but actually identified with) in Candace Bushnell’s fourth novel Lipstick Jungle. Three 40-something friends Nico O’Neilly, editor-in-chief of Bonfire Magazine; Victory Ford, a high-end fashion designer; and Wendy Healy, president of Parador Pictures, are some of the most powerful women in America. And while romantic relationships are difficult to maintain in New York City (like Sex proved) women striving for power and respect in business is even more brutal.
Bushnell provides a lot of business advice through the situations the three characters encounter. “You had to be able to walk into a situation and read it immediately,” is a lesson your professors probably didn’t preach from their soapbox, but Bushnell does from her’s. From deciphering if someone is trying to get Nico fired to Victory making deals with the most important people in the fashion industry, all of the business in the novel is very calculated. It’s kind of like doing business with the mafia. But wearing Manolo Blahniks when making a deal with “The Boss.”
And while dressing sexy for multi-million dollar dealings is very en vogue, pounding half-assed feminist ideals into your readers’ heads is not so fashionable. “Why was it that when men were concerned about making money, they were admirable, while women in the same position were considered suspect?” Most women in America are wondering that same thing, Bushnell. Try something different and actually answer that question.
Also not in style this season are clichés. They ruin the whole outfit, to put it metaphorically. “And if you worked really hard, and believed in yourself, and were willing to experience pain and fear… you might get really lucky and have a night like tonight.” As my friend Joey Lawrence from Blossom would say, “Whoa.” There is a cliché overload in that one quote and also throughout the whole book. When Bushnell actually drops the common sayings, she really can create new language to apply to old situations. “Nothing made a woman feel better than a man who had been with a supermodel… and rejected her!” Whoa.
Lipstick Jungle was picked up by NBC on Monday, May 14th, to make the book into a half hour television show that is supposed to air this 2007 season, for which Bushnell is excited. “It's a hot, hot, hot, fantastic idea, and it captures the zeitgeist,” says Bushnell, despite rumors that she and Sex and the City producer, Darren Star, had a business associate’s rumble. It’s a good thing Lipstick will be a television show, too. Bushnell’s concepts come off much better on screen than on page. Still, Lipstick is worth the read before it skyrockets to superstar status like it’s little sister, Sex and the City.
8 out of 10 Lipsticks.