Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Review: Lipstick Jungle by Candace Bushnell

Once a winter, I make a trek to Florida, either to sit on the beach in St. Pete or visit my grandparents in the Vero Beach area. Fortunately, this winter I'll be doing both.

Unfortunately, the trip to my grandparents' was last weekend where it promptly turned from 80 and sunny to pouring right after my plane landed, and it poured for two days. I mean raining-cats-and-dogs-keeping-you-awake-at-night pouring. It wasn't exactly what I'd hoped to be doing, a plan that originally and vaguely involved lying around the pool reminding old men what us young gals look like.

So I hunkered down and read like I had nothing else to do (which was true). I finished Wild Romance, and started another book. In between, I picked up Lipstick Jungle from the retirement community library, and read it cover to cover so I could return it before I came back to NJ.

The book is about three high-powered friends: a movie studio executive, a magazine editor and a fashion designer. Each faces a work and personal life crisis. The movie studio executive's wet rag of a husband threatens to leave; the magazine editor has an affair with a male model; and the fashion designer starts dating a billionaire and considers selling her business for a big payout.

While the book's mostly fluff, the character's intertwining tales did have something to say about women in the upper echelons of the working world, and reminded me of what my college advisor told me: That if I were a man, I'd be seen as assertive. But as a woman? People just called me a bitch, and I'd have to toughen up to get used to it.

The role reversal with the movie studio executive and stay at home dad raised some interesting points (how would it look different if he were the exec and she the stay at home mom?) As someone who runs her own business, I was intrigued at the perception of women in power and how we might be hard to date (I've had some men say this to me). If the alternate is to be docile and let a guy think he's right all the time -- a tactic my grandmother suggested to me this weekend -- I'd rather be alone. Reading this after Wild Romance lead to a "great think" on the flight home where I determined that being single at 29 with my own business is not really a bad thing. So I'm untraditional. I'm OK with that.

Even though only three years old, though, the book is stale. The worship of designer labels and money is misplaced, much as it is in theSex and the Citymovie, which was based on another Bushnell book (and I'm not just saying that because the Bushnell-inspired Carrie Bradshaw of the movie and show made everyone think freelance writers can write one column and afford a luxurious New York lifestyle. Right).

For two days in rainy Florida, it was something to do that inspired a few thoughts on my part. But high art? Not really.

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