Friday, October 31, 2008

Review: One Fifth Avenue

Summary: From one of the most consistently astute and engaging social commentators of our day comes another look at the tough and tender women of New York City--this time, through the lens of where they live.

One Fifth Avenue, the Art Deco beauty towering over one of Manhattan’s oldest and most historically hip neighborhoods, is a one-of-a-kind address, the sort of building you have to earn your way into--one way or another. For the women in Candace Bushnell’s new novel, One Fifth Avenue, this edifice is essential to the lives they’ve carefully established--or hope to establish. From the hedge fund king’s wife to the aging gossip columnist to the free-spirited actress (a recent refugee from L.A.), each person’s game plan for a rich life comes together under the soaring roof of this landmark building.

Acutely observed and mercilessly witty, One Fifth Avenue is a modern-day story of old and new money, that same combustible mix that Edith Wharton mastered in her novels about New York’s Gilded Age and F. Scott Fitzgerald illuminated in his Jazz Age tales. Many decades later, Bushnell’s New Yorkers suffer the same passions as those fictional Manhattanites from eras past: They thirst for power, for social prominence, and for marriages that are successful--at least to the public eye. But Bushnell is an original, and One Fifth Avenue is so fresh that it reads as if sexual politics, real estate theft, and fortunes lost in a day have never happened before.

From Sex and the City through four successive novels, Bushnell has revealed a gift for tapping into the zeitgeist of any New York minute and, as one critic put it, staying uncannily “just the slightest bit ahead of the curve.” And with each book, she has deepened her range, but with a light touch that makes her complex literary accomplishments look easy. Her stories progress so nimbly and ring so true that it can seem as if anyone might write them--when, in fact, no one writes novels quite like Candace Bushnell. Fortunately for us, with One Fifth Avenue, she has done it again. -- Every Woman's Voice

I was so excited to receive a copy of ONE FIFTH AVENUE by Candace Bushnell a few weeks ago. I've never read any of her books before, but I'm certainly familiar with the television shows and movie based on her books. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from her latest novel, but I figured this book would be light, fun read at the very least. I was pleasantly surprised that ONE FIFTH AVENUE was a very enjoyable read, and that it did actually have some depth!

It's no secret that Candace Bushnell "knows" New York society, and ONE FIFTH AVENUE is a wonderful glimpse at the occupants of an apartment building on One Fifth Avenue. I almost felt like I was a "fly on the wall" in their apartments; and I even felt like a bit of a voyeur into their private lives; however, I think that's what made this book so special. Ms. Bushnell does a great job of describing the building and the people who live in it -- all of the characters in this novel are very unique and interesting, and the apartment building actually becomes a character in its own right.

I liked that I could just sit back and read this book and enjoy the stories of the rich and famous (and the rich and famous wannabes.) Many of the characters seemed like they were fresh out of today's New York society pages; and I thought it was so funny how eccentric some of them were. There were a lot of characters in this novel, but I enjoyed following their lives and I never had any problem keeping them straight. I especially appreciated how Ms. Bushnell introduced all of the characters and their particular "issues." And, I thought she did a terrific job of weaving together their lives and showing how they continually interacted with each other.

I could so see ONE FIFTH AVENUE as a movie (or even a television series.) Considering Ms. Bushnell's past record, I won't be surprised to see it on the big screen in a few years. The book (or movie) will appeal to a lot of people because there is almost something for everyone. Many people will be drawn to this story because it does give a look into a life that they can only dream of. There are many fascinating characters who are both shallow and striving to grab that next brass ring that make this story fun; however, I found myself enjoying the characters who actually learned lessons about themselves by the end of the novel. As I finished this book, I was left with the positive message that so many of the characters realized what was really important in lives (instead of money, success and fame.) I was so happy that this book was deeper than what I was expecting, and it did actually have some substance.

If you'd like to learn more about ONE FIFTH AVENUE, check out this video!


S. Krishna said...

I just started this one and I am already enjoying it a ton more than her other books. I hope it stays that way!

Jill said...

Great review...I felt the same way. I hadn't enjoyed her past three, but I really liked this did have more depth and substance than you expect.

Melanie said...

Ack! Never read Wambaugh and never read Bushnell. I'm going to have to stop reading your blog before my TBR pile grows any taller. JK :) Thatnks for all the new author ideas.

Ti said...

Once in awhile I really enjoy a book like this. Light but fun.

Kristie said...

I loved this book too! I love reading about the insides of New York society. Great review.

Anonymous said...

I just got *One Fifth Avenue* this week, and I can't wait to put my feet up and get into it!

Great review ... thanks for sharing it.

Bookfool said...

I've got one of her books, but I never have gotten around to reading it because Sex and the City was just not my thing. I'll have to look for this one. It sounds much better than what I read about whichever one I have on my stacks (can't remember which one I've got -- it's been that long), thanks!