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Women Behaving Badly

We love the ladies who lust in Candace Bushnell's Sex and the City and the subsequent HBO series not because we envy their strappy sandals that cost more per pair than all our shoes combined. And we definitely don't covet how they fall in and out of relationships with unavailable men, gaining along the way STDs, unwanted pregnancies and vicious anecdotes to trade over cocktails. We adore the candid, catty girl talk. More important, we tune in to see these girls--with faults as numerous as their Prada handbags--make bad decisions time and time again. Their nights may be filled with more exciting engagements than an evening of TV and a bag of Chee-tos, but, when they bleed, their blood is as red as our own.

Bushnell certainly isn't the first author to chronicle the traverses of the love- and power-hungry women of New York City's social circles. (Edith Wharton, Clare Booth Luce and Dorothy Parker are just a few of her well-known predecessors.) But she has definitely banked on it well, appearing so often on talk shows and in magazines--and even in promos for the return of thirtysomething--that her face is almost as recognizable as Sarah Jessica Parker, who plays Bushnell's alter ego, the sex columnist Carrie, in the HBO series.

Bushnell also followed Sex and the City with a second book, Four Blondes, which is definitely not a sequel, prequel or otherwise related to Carrie, Samantha, Miranda or Charlotte. (And we shudder to think of actress Cynthia Nixon as a blonde.) However, the fair-haired focus in the final of the four stories, "Single Process," is a NYC sex columnist who gives up on hometown men and takes off to London to find a proper British husband. And Janey from "Nice N' Easy" could easily be one of Carrie's gal pals. A model and one-time actress with just enough celebrity residue to get what she wants, Janey picks a house--via a string of gruesome boyfriends--for the summer in the Hamptons. The other two blondes in the collection are likewise looking for love or money or power, even if they have to get it by proxy. And they all make mistakes in their pursuits--they just don't have as much fun as the foursome from Sex and the City.


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