I know. Two words I never thought I'd use when it came to a book by Candace Bushnell. But, um, One Fifth Avenue is good. It's entertaining, well written and quite a departure from her earlier books. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say that in a way it's kind of a modern comedy of manners. There are hints of bawdy Restoration literature and even a dash of Edith Wharton thrown in for good measure sprinkled in between the Vanity Fair-like plot that revolves around the very wealthy (and quite silly) people that live at One Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
When actress Schiffer Diamond returns to One Fifth after a substantial absence, quite a few things have changed. Most importantly, the ridiculously wealthy woman (and I can't remember her name and left my book in Tofino) who occupied the top two floors of the building has died and her apartment is up for grabs. The infighting begins between the remaining residents: Enid Merle, an aging gossip columnist, Philip Oakland, her screenwriter nephew, and Mindy and James Gooch, an online director and an author, respectively. The rivalry continues even as the new tenants, the newly rich Annalisa and Paul Rice, move into the building and cause problems of their own. Completing the cast of characters is Billy Litchfield and Lola Fabrikant, outsiders who both want in for different reasons.
In the kind of New York world where address means everything, the people who live in One Fifth exemplify the idiocy of a certain kind of lifestyle. Bushnell's ability to be cutting comes out freely in this book -- the characters are all double-sided. Of course, they do have amazing lives, but they aren't without their own flaws, making them at least human in this novel (unlike, say, the women of Lipstick Jungle). Strange, and maybe it was the wicked cold I've now caught after just finishing (barely) with the stupid bronchitis, that I enjoyed this book for reasons well beyond the usual insipid happiness I feel after reading chicklit. Kudos to Candace.