Candace Bushnell is undoubtedly a tour-de-force in the world of chick lit, a writer whose novels are constantly referred to as examples of why women act the way they do, which especially rings true in the case of New Yorkers, single or otherwise. Her first novel Sex and the City, essentially a collection of her already published articles for the New Yorker Observer, redefined the genre of women's fiction and spawned a TV show that achieved cult status.
Ten years later, fans of Bushnell's sharp writing are treated to another major novel about single women, their careers, relationship and the habitat that is New York City. This time, the women are slightly older and wiser. Wendy Healy is the president of Paradore Pictures, a movie studio, and also an unhappy wife and mother. Nico O'Neilly, the most powerful woman in publishing, is trying to balance her extramarital affair with her sky-high ambitions when it comes to her career. Finally, fashion designer Victory Ford is trying to recover from the disastorous reviews her last collection has just suffered.
The novel is as glamourous, steamy and light as anything Bushnell has written before, but it also has a sense of start and finish, unlike her more jumpy novels Sex and the City and Four Blondes. The world of the rich and priviliged rings true, and it is not hard to jump right into the craziness of the world these three ladies live in. Although some plot elements seem uncalled for, or even grow tedious (particularly in the case of Wendy, whose marriage problems never seem to catch our attention), the novel works. Bushnell has long been a gliteratti connaiseur, but now she goes a step further, bridging the gap between her characters and her readers, as well as providing a stronger social commentary.
Finally, Lipstick Jungle works because of its characters. These three 40-something women are a welcome distraction from the pallette of silly, dumb chick lit protagonists we have been served lately. Wendy, Nico and Victory are all women on top, and although they struglle with a variety of life problems, they would never step down and let men do their job for them. In other words, they are bitches and proud of that. They would not whine about working for Miranda Presley - they would suck it up and ultimately take her down.
Lipstick Jungle has also been adapted for a TV show, starring Brooke Shields, Lindsay Price and Kim Raver.