4 Blondes, Candace Bushnell
Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell returns to the playground of Manhanttan's powerful and beautiful with her sizzling sensation 4 Blondes, which gives an insider's look at the romantic intrigues, liaisons, and betrayals among the elite. She chronicles the lives of four beautiful women - a model, a columnist, a socialite, and a writer - as they face turning points in which each must choose between her passions. Studded with Bushnell's trademark wit and stiletto-heel-sharp insights, 4 Blondes serves up the zeitgest and mores of our era with gossipy, scandalous verve.
As I browsed Chapters, I stumbled upon this book and remembered that I told myself I would read it. The first thing that attracted me to the book, besides the hot pink and white cover, was Candace Bushnell's name. And right underneath that, the boastful "Author of Sex and the City." Nevermind that the book, printed in 2000, still hadn't gone on sale, or that my sister managed to pick up three paperbacks twice as thick as 4 Blondes and still cheaper than my lone book, or that I had no idea what "zeitgest" meant. It's a New York Times bestseller! Surely Ms. Bicknell would not steer me wrong.
Well, if "zeitgest" means "crappy" or "boring," then the back of the book is right on the money. But I suspect it means something like "sassy" or "bold," which it was certainly not. The book is written in four parts, all vignettes of different blonde women who face the same problems as anyone else who isn't blonde. Really, I don't know why Ms. Bicknell decided to write specifically about blondes, unless someone told her repeatedly that blondes are dumb or something, and she set out to prove that they're not (oh, of course they're not). I was sadly disappointed in this book. The writing style is okay, and I was surprised to find that the author often changed her narrative tone for each story, which was a nice touch. What the stories lack, though, is an interesting plot.
The first story, Nice N'Easy, focuses on Janey Wilcox, an aging model who uses men for their summer homes in the Hamptons. For crying out loud, that's the whole plot! The story switches from present to past as the reader is introduced to the men in Janey's life: a kind billionaire who is just as afraid of commitment as Janey is, a crazy record producer, and a director who sounds suspiciously like Woody Allen. Yes, Janey is blonde. Yes, she is shallow. Yes, she basically sleeps around to get what she wants. Yes, she has issues. And that is all you need to know.
The next two stories, Highlights (for Adults) and Platinum, are the worst in the collection. The first concerns itself with a married couple who find themselves in a position to cheat on each other, and they do. The latter is about a crazy anorexic woman who marries a prince, and what a typical crazy day for her is like. Okay, there's more to it than that, but for psychological reasons, I have chosen to block the rest out. Seriously, I think I read through these stories because I thought they might get better. They don't.
The last short story, Single Process, was by far the best. If Ms. Bicknell had decided to write this as a full-length story, I would buy the book. A New York magazine writer is sent to England to write an article about what the English think of sex. See, that's more like it! The protagonist was likeable, the plot was interesting, and there was a point to be had. Imagine how disappointed I was to find this was the shortest story in the collection.
Overall, I do not recommend this book, and I would not even if, say, I was offered Sarah Jessica Parker's role on "Sex & The City." Someone should tell Ms. Bicknell that just because a story involves sex, and characters speak candidly about it, and sex is essentially the only thing that propels the plot forward, it doesn't mean that the story will automatically be interesting. Next time I feel like a trashy read, I'll opt for V.C. Andrews. C.Ho.
4 BLONDES: out of 5