One Fifth Avenue – Candace Bushnell

Candace Bushnell is better known as creator of Sex and the City, which I haven’t read (yet) but I have watched the entire series and the film. I also read Lipstick Jungle a long, LONG time ago, so much so that I can’t remember it, so it must go back on my TBR pile. Anyhoo, given I know Sex and the City, I knew what to expect from this book. And I wasn’t far wrong.

One Fifth Avenue is the swankiest apartment building in Manhattan. All the best people live there, and as for everyone else, well, they want to live there. Money isn’t everything, however, you must have status to get in there too – the residents wouldn’t let just anyone live there. So when Louise Houghton dies and leaves an enormous apartment empty, the fun really begins. There’s talk of breaking the property up into smaller properties, joining it to other apartment and so on. That is, until Paul and Annalisa Rice move in. They’ve got the money, the status and the looks. They’re a young, filthy rich couple who quickly become ‘somebodies’ on the social scene. But not everyone is impressed. Paul’s arrogant and thinks nothing but money talks, so he quickly gets people’s backs up, leaving the lovely Annalisa to smooth things over.

The arrival of the Rices isn’t the only change in One Fifth – long-lost residents make a reappearance, new residents tag themselves onto current ones, and so on. The once-peaceful and law-abiding building is becoming somewhat of a shambles. The neighbours are fighting, sabotaging, cheating on partners… you name it, it starts to happen.

The long-standing residents are not happy and quickly try to rectify matters. But things get much, much worse before they get better…

Overall, One Fifth Avenue is middle of the road. It doesn’t have the smart, sassy and hilarious characters of Sex and the City, but it does have characters from lots of different backgrounds, with very different lives. Their apartment block is the only thing that unites them. Other than that, they’re pretty unremarkable. There’s lots (and lots) of talk about how wonderful New York is, and many references to the way of life in the city, to the extent it got a little dull. It just felt like the book was just another way to brag about how ace New York is, and it sacrificed what could have been a clever novel. I felt it had too many characters to really get to know and care about them all, too many interwoven plots and too many pages. It would have benefited from being much shorter. It wasn’t a book I felt compelled to keep picking up – it just dragged on too long and didn’t really absorb me. And for those reasons I’d say it was OK. Not terrible, not great, just – as they say – very, ‘meh.’

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