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Sunday, 25 January 2009

One Fifth Avenue

I finally finished One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell. It wasn't at all what I expected it to be but it was good. It's about the owners of apartments in One Fifth Avenue and what happens when Paul and Annalisa Rice buy the biggest apartment following the death of Mrs Houghton. Their advent is the catalyst which causes many people's lives to unravel.

Mindy and James Gooch and their teenage son Sam live in what were the luggage rooms when the building was a hotel. James is a relatively unknown writer - though his latest work is about to take the city by storm. Mindy is the head of the committe which runs the building and she also works on a magazine. She starts writing a blog which soon becomes popular. Enid is a gossip columnist and lives next door to her nephew Philip Oakland - a novelist and screenwriter. At the same time as Paul and Annalisa move in, actress Schiffer Diamond moves back into her apartment. Philip takes on an assistant - Lola - who gradually worms her way into his life, just when he is wondering whether to resume his love affair with Schiffer.

Living outside the building but playing a big part in the story are Billie Lichfield - man about town and Connie and Sandy Brewer - Paul Rice's friends and business associates. All the characters are believable and the way they attempt to maintain their positions in society makes fascinating reading. The author seems to be saying that in trying to keep up with everyone, do the right things, say the right things and buy the right things many are in danger of losing their souls.

I expected a light read but instead I got a story which is told with almost forensic attention to detail and some profound thoughts on the state of New York high society. Definitely different.

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